Will two hours in the park become the next 10,000 steps?
As people spend more time indoors, a mountain of scientific research says spending time in nature is critical to health and increases longevity. That means being in fresh air, under trees and away from cars and concrete—on a regular basis. And, no, the Peloton doesn’t count.
“There’s an urgent need emerging in science and at the gut level to increase the nature experience. This field is just exploding,” says Gretchen Daily, a professor of environmental science at Stanford University.
The benefits have been clear to scientists for some time, but the pandemic has made the matter more urgent. The physical and emotional toll the virus has taken, especially in urban areas with little green space, has galvanized doctors, researchers and others to tap into nature’s therapeutic effects.
Spending time in the woods—a practice the Japanese call “forest bathing”—is strongly linked to lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones and decreased anxiety, depression and fatigue.