The healing power of nature

By Sandy Priester.  
One of my daily habits is taking a walk. I have always felt a strong connection to nature, and this summer is no exception. With all of the recent rain in the Denver area, the parks and trails are lush with vegetation. I love seeing the trees fully leafed out, hearing the birds, and occasionally spotting a fox or deer.

There are many benefits to spending time in nature. Studies consistently show that having a connection with nature supports memory, attention, and creativity, as well as happiness and well-being.  It also appears to promote physical health. 

One study published in Scientific Reports Journal with 20,000 individuals showed that individuals who spent two hours a week in nature reported better physical health and higher well-being than those who didn’t.  The pattern was consistent across occupations, ethnic groups, people from rich and poor areas, and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities.

“It might not surprise us that nature stimulates physical activity”, said Gretchen Daily, faculty director of the Stanford Natural Capital Project. “But the associated health benefits – from reducing cancer risks to promoting metabolic and other functioning – are really quite astonishing.”

I find that physical contact with the earth brings me a deep sense of peace and spiritual connection. It gets me out of my head, and helps me feel grounded and present in my body.  

Now that summer is fully here, I am hoping that each of you are finding ways to connect with our beautiful natural world. Not only is it pleasurable, but it just might improve your health.

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