February 09, 2018

The sound of waves on a rocky beach. The smell of soil after the rain. The warmth of the sun on your skin. Nature just feels good. But a growing body of research suggests that it might be good for you, too. Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative , explains why going outside can make you feel better.

Three Takeaways 

  • Nature can have real, physical health effects. “Cortisol levels go down, blood pressure goes down,” Williams says. “And this is just hanging out in the woods.” Studies from Japan and California have shown changes in subjects’ immune systems. Other subjects have reported feeling happier, less angry, less stressed when in natural environments.
  • The U.S. has started a parks prescription program. Yes, you read that right. The National Park Service and over thirty medical practices have partnered to bring your health outside.
  • Turns out, any amount of nature can be good for you. (Though the more you get, the better you feel.) So potted plants in your office, public parks in your city -- these kinds of things can make you healthier and happier.

More reading 

Support for our coverage of environmental issues and sustainable communities comes from The Kendeda Fund.

A version of this segment originally aired on Sept. 8, 2017

innovation hub, Florence Williams, pri, Kara Miller, WGBH

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