Can forest walks really improve life all that much? Apparently so.
In her most recent book, The Nature Fix, author and journalist Florence Williams examines the science of getting ‘back to nature’.
‘The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative‘ probes the associations between nature and wellbeing; examining them in a very personal, learned and enlightening manner.
Originally a native of New York City, Williams lived in the Rocky Mountains for several years before returning to the urban lifestyle when a change of job brought her and her family to Washington DC. Shortly after the move, Williams felt like something was missing. There was a disconnect and, after some soul searching, it transpired that her proximity to nature (or lack thereof) was a significant factor in her health, as well as her happiness.
The book, which caught the attention of The New York Times (who spoke very favourably about it) sees Williams explore the neurological and physical effects of nature on the body. The results are both surprising and comforting.
Birdsong, the scent of pine trees and natural fractal imagery has all been shown to relieve pressure on the frontal lobes, as well as reducing blood pressure and heart rate. In addition to improving cardiovascular health, the mindful benefits of even five hours of natural immersion per month have been shown to greatly increase productivity, creativity and boost mental health.
So now there is no excuse. It’s not even necessary to do an Edward Abbey and disappear into the wilderness completely, as just a few hours here and there can make all the difference.
“From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to groves of eucalyptus in California, Williams investigates the science at the confluence of environment, mood, health, and creativity. Delving into completely new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and ultimately strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas—and the answers they yield—are more urgent than ever.”
Williams delves further into the influences and inspirations which culminated in the writing of this book in the following interview.
Recently, My Good Planet writer Baiba Sustere also covered developments which showcase how walking can alleviate problems associated with dementia.