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Nature Nurtures: The Power of the Great Outdoors



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         Everyone knows what research now proves: nature is good for you. Be they gardeners, dog walkers, or wilderness wanderers, people simply feel healthier in the great outdoors. But why?
In a recent column, gardening expert Mark Cullen tells us it’s all about trees. He writes, “We know we feel better when we spend time in the natural environment of a conservation area or urban park, or in our backyard. …” Referring to a University of Chicago study, Cullen adds, “In fact, 10 additional trees per city block increased … subjects’ health perception by as much as $10,000 in extra income (like winning a small lottery!).”
In a recent article in Ecologist, Richard J. Dolesh explains why: “New research reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine now provides scientific proof that walking in nature and spending time under leafy shade trees causes electrochemical changes in the brain that can lead people to enter a highly beneficial state of ‘effortless attention.’”
Psychology professors Rachel and Stephen Kaplan have been researching what they call “the restorative benefits” of nature for decades. In a cover story for the American Psychological Association, writer Rebecca A. Clay summarizes their findings: “People don’t have to head for the woods to enjoy nature’s restorative effects, the Kaplans emphasize. Even a glimpse of nature from a window helps. In one well-known study, for instance, Rachel Kaplan found that office workers with a view of nature liked their jobs more, enjoyed better health, and reported greater life satisfaction.”
So get out there! It’s good for you.