Human beings are land animals. We have feet, not flippers. While our body needs water to survive, those needs don’t require that we submerge our heads in H2O.
You might think that diving into water, like peering over a cliff’s edge, would provide a little adrenaline rush. But it turns out that just the opposite is true. “Water submersion has some counterintuitive calming effects,” says Roly Russell, PhD, a researcher at the Sandhill Institute for Complexity and Sustainability and first author of a 2013 Annual Reviews paper on the health benefits of time spent in nature.
There are ways around that.
It is possible for technology to increase our access to nature experience, but first, let’s understand why nature really is the beating heart of our mental health and well-being.
Last week, I tried to think of ways to celebrate my birthday. In what already seems like another reality, I had plans to go to a favorite restaurant with my teenagers, but we scrapped that. Instead, they cooked up a surprisingly edible meal. (I’m sure I will be leaning on their newfound skills in the coming weeks.)
One plan I did stick with was my Monday morning walk with a few friends on the C&O Canal, a National Park Service unit near the Potomac River. We made it a bit more special by adding a picnic breakfast. “No gifts,” I…
There is no better time to hit the hiking trails than in fall, and outdoor lovers know it. In Shenandoah National Park — where the leaves are famously on a blazing display — the number of park visitors nearly doubled from over 109,780 people to over 202,300 between the months of September and October in 2018. Cooler temperatures and epic scenery bring hikers out by the millions, but the allure of an autumn outing may also be sparked by something deeper.
John Sharp, MD, a psychiatrist and Harvard Medical School professor, explains that fall is often a psychologically complex season…
Back in 2008, a group of researchers at University of Michigan studied whether spending time in nature could improve a person’s cognitive performance. They tested the memory of 38 students, and then split them into two groups: one went for a 2.8-mile walk in an arboretum, while the other went for a 2.8-mile walk in the city. Upon their return to the lab, everyone in the study repeated the memory tests. …
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