Want to Feel More Alive? Study Shows You Need to Go Outside

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Want to Feel More Alive? Study Shows You Need to Go Outside

by Jaymi Heimbuch
green hike path photo
Photo via cletch
We kind of already know this - if not intuitively then through past studies - but a new study has shown that when you spend more time out in nature, you feel more alive. Published in this month's issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the study shows that getting out and communing with nature is better for feeling rejuvenated than reaching for the ever-so-urban cup of coffee. "Nature is fuel for the soul, " says Richard Ryan, lead author and a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. Both physically and mentally, we're zippier when we step into the wild.
Science Daily writes, "The findings, adds Ryan, are important for both mental and physical health. 'Research has shown that people with a greater sense of vitality don't just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings,' says Ryan."
The idea of getting out in nature to improve our spirits and therefore our physical health goes hand in hand with nature deficit disorder - the diminished use of the senses, difficulty with attention and higher rates of illness associated with an estrangement from nature, from the real world. Past studies have even shown that we're kinder, more gentle folks when we feel in-touch with the natural world.
It really should come as no surprise that as we pull ourselves away from the world in which we evolved, that sustains us and keeps us ticking, we're going to function less efficiently. Think about it - how often have we witnessed animals living in captivity just wither away from depression or unexplained illness? Well, humans are animals. We need our green scene.
The authors of this particular study wanted to find out the effects of nature alone, apart from other factors. So, they performed five experiments on 537 college students, including sending them on a 15 minute walk through either a hallway or a tree-lined path, showing scenes of cityscapes or landscapes, and imagining themselves in scenes either sedentary or active, inside or out and with or without others. Across the board, those participants who spent time or imagined themselves in natural settings consistently felt more energetic, and the final results are that if you spend just 20 minutes a day in nature, vitality levels will significantly rise.
"We have a natural connection with living things," says Ryan. "Nature is something within which we flourish, so having it be more a part of our lives is critical, especially when we live and work in built environments."
So, if you're feeling tired, listless, worn out, if you're pooped at parties... Go. Outside.

Another article on this comes from a very good company, Solatube, that can help bring the natural daylight into your home:

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate National
 Daylight Appreciation Day
Finding better ways to enjoy the golden rays is hard to do. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
#10 Celebrate the sunrise.
Take time to experience the first crack of dawn by picking a nice spot to catch the first rays of daylight.
#9 Do some gardening.
The sun is one part of the triangle that enables plants to grow. Tend to your garden, or start one for fall produce.
#8 Leave the car, take the bike or walk to work.
Bicycling is the greenest mode of road transportation. Bask in the daylight as you power your way to the office.
#7 Have a float.
A brisk swim is nice, but hopping onto a raft and floating leisurely around in your pool, lake or ocean can be even nicer.
#6 Dine al fresco.
Head to a local lunch spot with outdoor seating or pack a picnic to enjoy at a nearby park.
#5 Go for a walk.
Grab a partner and get outdoors for a brisk walk. Even a 30 minute jaunt can leave you feeling healthy and refreshed.
#4 Hang up a hammock.
There’s nothing like relaxing in a hammock with a good book, a cold drink and a warm breeze to kick-off summer.
#3 Play outdoor games.
Whether it’s Frisbee, badminton or a game of touch football, a little friendly competition is a great way to pass the afternoon.
#2 Grill up some fun.
Invite your friends and family over for an evening barbeque. Enjoy some quality time with people you love during the last few daylight hours.
#1 Bring the outdoors in.
Bring the beauty of pure, natural daylight into your entire home with Solatube Daylighting Systems.
For more information on Daylight Appreciation Day, and for details on how you could win a Solatube 160 DS Daylighting System, visit www.nationaldaylightday.com.

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