As we approach a new year, many people are considering ways they can become healthier. While you might focus on how you can eat healthier or workout more, there may be a pillar of health you’re missing: going outside. Adding nature activities to your 2022 plans might improve your health.
Time in nature has been found to have significant health benefits from making us happier, helping us live longer, and helping us avoid certain diseases. If you want to look into the health benefits further, check out these 3 studies:
- A 2019 study found spending 10 minutes or more in nature 3 times a week can reduce biological indicators of stress by over 20%. This is because spending time outside helps you disconnect from stressors and reconnect to your natural environment.
- A 2020 study discussed the direct relationship between nature and happiness. Spending time in green space improved overall mood and mental health in adults. It’s also been shown to improve cognition and creativity, two other indicators of happiness.
- A 2018 study found time in nature had an impact on cardiovascular health. Specifically, the study suggested sunlight exposure and geographic features such as altitude were key indicators of cardiovascular health.
While you might not have spent time in nature during the holidays, 2022 is upon us and it’s time to start anew. Consider adding nature into your year with these eight tips.
Schedule the Time
One of the first steps to achieving any health goal is to put it into your schedule. Your work probably expects you to show up to meetings and work a certain number of hours. Your health is as important, if not more important, than work but are you making the time for it?
Consider scheduling certain times in your calendar where you’ll get outside. That could look like 30 minutes everyday or a hike every weekend. Customize it to your specific timetable, but add it in.
Choose a nature activity you enjoy
Often, we want to get out into nature but we don’t know how. While nature itself offers benefits, certain activities such as gardening and surfing have added benefits. Here are some potential nature activities you might be able to try next year, depending on where you live:
- Going to the beach
- Picnic in a nearby park
- Walks or hikes
- Breath work in nature
- Yoga in nature
For more ideas, get my free guide to feeling healthier and less stressed using nature in one week.
Take your workouts outside
Whether you’re lifting weights, running, or taking a dancing class, exercise has been found to have significant health benefits. However, working out in nature increases serotonin on top of the usual benefits of exercise.
A study from 2010, found a significant reason to take your exercise outdoors, especially if you’re someone who has trouble maintaining an exercise habit. This study surveyed two groups, one who exercised indoors and one who exercised outdoors, over a period of time. While both groups had the same physical benefits, the group who exercised outdoors enjoyed it more and were more likely to want to exercise again.
Because more serotonin is released when you workout in nature, you are actually happier when working out. If you’re happy doing something, you’re more likely to make it a habit so this tip can help you get your daily dose of nature and exercise.
Consider your climate
While exercising outside or spending time at the beach sound enticing, they are not possible during certain months. However, just because the weather outside is frightful, you don’t have to neglect nature. There are winter activities you can do, such as shorter walks, skiing, or ice skating. Many of these have their own health benefits, can help you beat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and are completely safe if you bundle up and watch for any ice or hazardous conditions.
You can also bring nature to you by greening the indoors. Some ideas to bring nature into your home include:
- Buying a houseplant
- Incorporating blue and green into your interior design
- Change out air filters
- Place photos of nature in your home
Start a garden
Gardening is a fun and rewarding way to spend time outside. Plus, it impacts both mental and physical health!
A 2020 study discovered community gardening programs provide physical health benefits, including increased strength, for elderly participants. In fact, gardening can be an excellent physical activity for the elderly because it provides health benefits similar to exercise without the strain and injury potential of some physical exercise, such as running.
Another study from 2006 looked specifically at how gardening impacted one’s risk of getting dementia. Dementia appears 36%-47% less often in gardeners than in non gardeners.
While it’s difficult to garden in January in most parts of the world, it is possible to start planning out your garden now. Planning out your garden can be extremely important if you want to practice organic gardening, regenerative agriculture, or grow some of your own food. Visit my TikTok for more tips on planning your garden for 2022.
Visit blue spaces
Blue spaces are bodies of water and areas near bodies of water. This can include lakes, rivers, beaches, bays, landlocked seas, and more. Various studies have found that these blue spaces and blue care provide physical and mental health benefits.
A 2020 report from the UK’s Environment Agency found those who spend more time near blue spaces are happier, have lower levels of stress, and feel more connected to the world around them. Spending time at blue spaces also increases opportunities to socialize and build community. If you want a greater sense of connection and lower levels of stress in 2022, heading to a nearby body of water can help!
Plan a vacation to your comfort nature
When planning out your 2022, consider how you can incorporate nature into your vacation plans. Swapping out a trip to an urban center with a trip to Lake Tahoe or the beach can be a great way to get the added benefit of nature. Or, if you do want to vacation in a city, you could stop by an urban greenspace such as Central Park in New York City.
If you truly want to experience the benefits of time in nature on vacation, you might consider visiting one of your comfort nature spaces, or the places in nature where you feel the most at home. To find out what your comfort nature places are, take my comfort nature quiz.
2022 is a great year to not only focus on eating healthy or working out, but on all aspects of health including spending time in nature. If you want weekly advice on how to spend more time in nature this year, consider subscribing to my newsletter.