Whether we realize it or not, we all intrinsically benefit from time spent in nature. Something as simple as going on an evening walk or sitting by a body of water has our muscles relaxing, our minds clearing, and our smiles coming more readily. But even knowing how valuable time in nature is, our busy lives can make it feel like more of a luxury than a necessity. Depending on where we live, it may take work to get a look at a long horizon or enjoy a walk through a wooded grove, and all too often, that’s time we feel we don’t have. Like any other self-care measure, understanding the importance of spending time in nature will help us find ways to make outside time a lifestyle habit instead of an occasional luxury. Read on for our list of 8 benefits of spending time in nature.
1. Balance, Agility, and Small Muscle Groups
If you’ve ever spoken with a medical professional about your exercise routine, you may hear them recommending that you develop part of it outdoors. While utilizing indoor gym equipment like treadmills is an excellent option when weather is inclement, taking a hike or going for a jog on a trail improves your agility and balance while engaging small muscle groups it’s hard to target with a machine. Whereas man-made routines are predictable, nature is not, and our muscles rejoice in the opportunity to constantly adjust and engage new challenges, however small.
2. Medical Conditions
Science Daily reports other health benefits to spending time outdoors, some of which may surprise us. Exposure to green space reduces the risk of common medical problems like type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stress, preterm birth, and premature death. Beyond this, populations who live near large green spaces - whether open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation or urban parks and street greenery - are reported to have better health overall. This study pulled data from 20 countries, including the US and much of Europe. While we’ve all heard that spending time outside improves our health, the correlation to reduced risk of specific diseases certainly brings home the importance of outdoor time!
Delaware has an impressive 19 state parks, boasting outdoors features such as dozens of walking trails, multiple ponds, two marina's, lots of camping, outdoor dining, a zip-lining course, and even a zoo and a water park!
3. Lower Depression
Time spent outside in nature (and especially in the sun) can do wonders for our mental health. Studies have long shown, and doctors have long recommended, that being in and near nature decreases depression. In fact, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that people who live near parks and green spaces are shown to experience lower levels of depression and anxiety.
4. Improved Memory
Time spent in nature also improves memory. One famous study from the University of Michigan reported that two groups of students took walks after a short memory test. One group took a walk in the city and the other in an arboretum. After the walk, both groups retook the test. The result? The group that walked in the arboretum did almost 20% better than they had originally, while the group that walked city streets showed no consistent improvement. While limited in scope, this test suggests that time spent outside in nature markedly improves memory.
5. Greater Creativity
Given the correlation between outside time and memory, it’s no surprise that spending time in nature also seems to boost creativity. A similar test to the one described above was given to groups of hikers, this time measuring creativity before and after hiking, with dramatic results - a 50% difference in creativity. With its proven ability to lower depression and increase memory and creativity, there’s a reason painters and writers so often retreat to nature for inspiration!
One of the things that sets Blenheim communities apart is our dedication to weaving nature into all of our community designs. For example, at Westhampton every lot backs to mature trees and over 20-acres (more than half!) of the community has been preserved as open space. And at communities like those at Bayberry, you can find features like a 70-acre central park, an 11-acre lake and lake house, and miles of walking trails throughout.
6. Higher Happiness
Spending just 20 minutes outside among nature can help you to relax, reduce stress, and leave you feeling happier. Many doctors recommend time outside as "free prescriptions" to increase an individual's sense of well-being, boost energy levels, improve sleep, and increase productivity and feelings of accomplishment. Something as easy as taking your daily lunch break outside can reset your mental state and change the course of your whole day!
Health benefits aside, spending time in nature is just, well, natural. As humans, we naturally gravitate toward seasons of pattern and change. We have a work week in which to accomplish tasks and a weekend to rejuvenate; we have a day to labor and a night to rest in sleep; we have holiday seasons in which to celebrate and ordinary times in which to establish routines. The seasons in nature are a central point for us around which many of our patterns revolve, and staying connected to the changes in weather, in plant life, and in animal life is both healthy, rejuvenating and exciting.
8. The Bigger Picture
Whenever we’re struggling through difficult life circumstances, we often remind ourselves to look at the bigger picture and to gain perspective. Going outside does exactly this. It is no coincidence that "stop and smell the roses" is a common phrase we hear in times of overwhelm and stress. When we go outside, we have an opportunity to pause and reflect. To literally can see the bigger picture, of which our struggles are only a part, by seeing the vastness and beauty of the world around us and the many people in it.
Choosing A Conducive Environment
Psychology Today reports that there is a threshold at which we start to see a correlation between spending time in nature and good self-reported health and high self-reported well-being. This threshold is 120 minutes per week. While reserving at least 2 out of 168 hours a week sounds easy, we all know how hard it is to find time for ourselves. Just like one of the best ways to get more exercise is to have a favorite gym and outdoor sports courts nearby, one of the best ways to ensure you’re spending enough time in nature is to live in a community that consciously cultivating them.
At Blenheim Homes, we consciously create communities designed around nature. All of our communities are designed to incorporate and celebrate nature, and even our homes are designed with plenty of windows and architectural designs that increase natural light and provide longer views.
At Westhampton, all homes in the community back to mature trees, so even in the suburbs of Wilmington, nature is never more than a few steps away.
Other communities are built around central areas where families can gather together outdoors, like the 70+ acre central park at The Meadows at Bayberry. Across the street at The Village of Bayberry, residents enjoy a luxury lake house on the banks of an 11-acre boating and fishing lake. At The Ponds at Bayberry miles of dedicated walking trails weave throughout the neighborhood and to the luxury community clubhouse, outdoor pool and sport courts.
At Blenheim Homes we recognize and value the importance of physical, mental, and emotional health, and we do our best to foster joyful communities built in and around nature. Find your perfect fit by visiting our website today.