A short report by the NHS Forest Organization pulls together some of the increasingly compelling evidence on the physiological and psychological benefits of what's known as a Green Prescription, or in our terminology a hit of Vitamin N(ature).
A precise explanation for the science behind this phenomena remains largely out of the realm of most medical doctors yet one only has to look at it from an evolutionary perspective to understand that over 2.5 million years of history living in a natural context isn't something that evaporates in just a few hundred years of industrial society.
Our ancestors survived day by day thanks to their ability to relate to and work with, not against, the seasons, animals and vegetation.
The Japanese, Koreans and Taiwanese all have programs of so-called forest bathing in place, as the report mentions:
There is clinical evidence in Asia, published in the Journal of Cardiology, that spending time in a forest has therapeutic effects on hypertension...
Something similar is happening in New Zealand too where studies have shown that
..a green prescription increases activity levels and improves quality of life over 12 months without evidence of adverse effects.
Hospitals have also discovered the benefits of nature for patients:
Nature also reduces the experience of pain... A picture of a nature scene by the bed and an audio tape of nature sounds have been shown via an RCT to significantly reduce pain in patients
It's with the psychological benefits that things start to get really interesting however, especially for a project like Biofit where we are essentially dealing with healthy students looking for a more natural solution to keeping fit in the city.
Exercising in natural environments, as opposed to the usual indoor urban gym, have been shown to stimulate feelings of revitalization, restore attention and improve both mood and self-esteem.
Other nature hacks are to spend time close to water, the coast and animals.
There's lots more here so click through to read the full report online.