People seem to know instinctively that spending time in nature is a good thing, and it makes sense: as a species we developed hand in hand with nature. In fact, we’ve only lived indoors for a tiny fraction of our existence.
But with our modern Western lifestyle, it’s become pretty standard to spend more time inside—away from nature—than outside in it. In fact, on average, Americans spend nearly 90% of their time indoors! And as much as you may want to get outside after being stuck inside at work all day, when you hear the siren call of the couch at the end of a long afternoon, suddenly just the thought of going for a walk outside can seem exhausting.
Here’s the thing though: spending time in nature isn’t just a “nice to have,” it’s actually really important for optimal health.
For instance, did you know that...
- The sounds of nature shift your nervous system into a relaxed state.
- Being closer to nature is associated with healthier blood pressure levels in pregnancy.
- Children who are born to mothers who spend time in nature tend to have a higher birth weight.
- Living near green space is associated with having a healthier weight as an adolescent and an adult.
- Children who are able to get outside more tend to have fewer behavioural issues.
- People who have regular access to nature are less likely to be on anti-depressants.
These are just a few of the many benefits of being in nature, but sometimes just looking at nature is all you need for a physical or emotional boost. In one groundbreaking study, hospital patients recovering from surgery who had a window view of green, leafy trees recovered one day sooner, needed less pain medication, and had fewer complications than patients whose window looked out onto a brick wall.7
Most of us have access to some sort of nature on daily basis, and can benefit from getting outdoors and into some greenery. But what you might not realise is that being outside is also really beneficial to your gut. And when your gut is happy and healthy, it supports the rest of your body in some seriously positive ways.
Here are 5 gut-focused reasons to get outside more:
1. Lower stress.
Being outside in nature is naturally calming (it literally changes the way your brain is operating so you can’t help but relax), and this is good news for your microbiome. You see, when you’re stressed out, the flow of blood in your body becomes restricted, and this includes the blood flow to your digestive system, which is where your gut microbiome lives—this is why stress is often associated with digestive complaints like gas and bloating. Stress also reduces the number of friendly bacteria in your gut, creating conditions that allow undesirable microbes to grow. Over time, the less desirable bacteria can get out of control, causing issues throughout your body.8
But the good news is that the opposite is also true. The lower your stress levels, the healthier your microbiome is, and, even better, once you get this healthy cycle started, it tends to build on itself. Lower stress leads to a healthier microbiome, which in turn leads to even lower stress, which supports the microbiome even more...and so on and so forth.
This article was sourced from Hyperbiotics and written by Rachel Allen. To read the full version of the article, please click HERE