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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Healing Power Of Nature

You have heard most researchers, hikers, and outdoors people in general talk about how they feel better after spending some time in nature. Studies are now confirming what many of us have been saying. 

I personally get ran down, frustrated and even depressed if I spend too much time indoors. If I get to feeling this way, I will often take a trip to the woods and by the end of the adventure, I'm feeling much better and more like "myself". 

A walk on a wooded trail can be very therapeutic. Just recently TCC's own Leo Frank took a day trip out in the mountains. One of his first comments, after returning home, was about how much better he felt.

In the early 1980s, the Forest Agency of Japan began advising people to take strolls in the woods for better health. It was/is called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, and it was believed to lower stress. Later studies showed time in nature is responsible for many measurable beneficial changes in the body.

In one of the earliest studies, researchers found that people who spent 40 minutes walking in a cedar forest had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is involved in blood pressure and immune-system function, compared with when they spent 40 minutes walking in a lab.

Lets look at some of the benefits from spending time in the forest.

Lower Blood Pressure - High blood pressure affects 1 in 3 Americans. Research shows that spending at least 30 minutes a week in a park or forest can help lower blood pressure.

Promotes Cancer-Fighting Cells - Research at Nippon Medical School shows that when people walk through a forest, they inhale phytoncides that increase their number of natural killer cells–a type of white blood cell that supports the immune system and is associated with a lower risk of cancer.

Depression and Anxiety - National Academy of Sciences found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural setting, such as a forest or a nature park, were less likely to ruminate–a hallmark of depression and anxiety–and had lower activity in an area of the brain linked to depression than people who walked in an urban area.

ADHD Symptoms - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had kids with ADHD take three 20-minute walks, without their medication, in different locations: a park, a neighborhood and an urban area. When the researchers tested the children afterward, they found that after a park walk, the kids were able to concentrate substantially better than after a walk in the other settings. A University of Michigan study found that people improved their short-term memory by 20% after a nature walk but had no changes after walking through city streets.

Using nature as a medicine is something that I personally have experienced and now there appears to be scientific studies that back up what many of us already knew. 

Recently, People magazine ran a article on the benefits of getting outside. In the article they present some even more recent data that supported earlier studies. Studies showed that even a short time outdoors can boost your mood.That a mere 120 minutes in the outdoors per week can improve your overall health. 

According to a 2019 study, a 20 minute nature break decreased stress levels. Another interesting fact was that there is a 55 percent increase risk of psychiatric disorders among kids growing up without green spaces.

Studies have shown that being in nature helps health issues like heart disease, depression, cancer, anxiety and attention disorders. So when planning your next getaway, vacation or family outing, consider a trip to the mountains or one of the many National parks.

Most of us "bigfooters" have been talking about loving the outdoors and feeling better after a trip for many years. We can confirm the findings of theses types of studies. 

I would even take it one step further and say that there is probably even benefits from just looking at nature photography. I think pictures of mountains and trees has a calming, peace inducing effect for a lot of people.

One thing none of these studies mentioned, to my knowledge, was benefits like muscle strength and tone, possible weight loss, reduction in arthritis-related pain, and lower blood sugar from the exercise   of being outdoors. We all know there are physical improvements when we get moving and using our muscles.

Another thing that is important to me is the learning aspect of being outdoors. While I have a deep interest in bigfoot, I also have a desire to learn about the outdoors. Learning about the different animals, tracks, insects and plant life is very rewarding. 

Recently, my interest in bird watching has really increased and I'm seeing and hearing birds that I simply overlooked or was totally oblivious to. Learning about these birds, plants and other things brings a new level of enjoyment to the outdoors. I recently purchased the book "National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America" in an effort to learn more about birds. There is an new level of enjoyment in being able to identify a bird, bird call, a plant, a track or various other things while in the outdoors.

So, get out there and enjoy the outdoors and in doing so you might just improve your overall health and even learn some new things.

[Sources: People Magazine, Time Magazine]


This post by Thomas Marcum, Thomas is the founder/leader of the cryptozoology and paranormal research organization known as The Crypto Crew. Over 25 years experience with research and investigation of unexplained activity, working with video and websites. A trained wild land firefighter and a published photographer, and poet

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