The benefits of exposing yourself to nature are well documented. Our proximity to nature influences everything from mental-health to air quality. Studies have even shown that exposure to nature in children greatly protects mental health as they grow into adults.
The longtime assumption has been that people need to go outside and spend time in natural settings to reap such benefits. A new study suggests the benefits extend beyond only those who walk, bike, or paddle through nature to those you can simply view it from the windows of their homes.
In a new study from the University of Plymouth in the UK, researchers found this passage dreaming of nature to reduce the frequency and intensity of unhelpful cravings. By reducing cravings from unhealthy snacks, alcohol, and tobacco, this has clear associations with a person's health. Because each of these unhealthy items can be linked with heart disease, this is an important consideration. A reduction in the consumption of each of these products can help protect the heart as we age.
For the study, researchers questioned 149 participants about their exposure to nature and in which ways they were exposed. They also asked questions about the frequency and intensity of their cravings for unhealthy items. Researchers also consider the level of green space – participants neighborhood and how much exercise each person regularly got.
Researchers found that those who had access to either a private or public green space reported less intense and less frequent cravings. People who live in a home from which they could view green spaces, describe similar benefits.
This adds to the long list of reasons why city planners should consider innovative ways to add green spaces to our cities. For individuals, this means choosing homes with natural views can positively impact their well-being.
Although impressive, this is just one of the many ways that exposure to natural settings positively influences health. More research is needed to help us gain a fuller understanding of exactly what those health benefits are.
The above video from the University of North Carolina goes into detail about what benefits people reap from stepping outside.