The bustle of large urban centers harms our physical and mental health. Sound, visual and air pollution, together with being enclosed on a day-to-day basis, contribute to triggering lung, heart and emotional conditions. In that context, science has shown that conducting open air activities, in touch with nature, is what we need to incorporate into our daily routines as a means of preventive treatment.
Researchers at the Chiba University in Japan have gathered 168 volunteers and had half of them trek through the woods and the remainder walk through urban centers. Those who had contact with nature showed a general decrease of 16% in cortisol (the stress hormone), 4% in heart rate, and 2% in blood pressure.
In Australia, a study from the Deakin University shows that nature offers people moments of freedom and relaxation, with a positive impact on their mental state and reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression. In the Netherlands, researchers at the Amsterdam University Medical Center discovered that people who live closer to nature show a 21% decrease in their chance to develop depression. Benefits also involve improvements in sleep quality, cognitive development, immunity, heart and lung conditions, as well as a decrease in anxiety, muscle tension, and the chance of developing diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
In Brazil, the country with the richest biodiversity in the world, contact with nature can happen in different spaces, such as parks, public squares, waterfalls and coastal and marine environments. “The benefits provided by nature – such as pure air, water, micro-climate regulation, decreases in polluting particles, mental and physical relaxation, among others – and their connection to our health should be viewed by society and public agencies as a priority. Having accessible and well-kept green areas close to the population encourages visits and activities, resulting in more relaxed and productive individuals,” finished Leide Takahashi, Biodiversity Conservation Manager at the Boticário Group Foundation for Nature Protection.