Genuine Wellness Benefits of Spending Time in the Wilderness

We all know that an active, outdoorsy lifestyle is beneficial to your health from an exercise standpoint, but scientific research is increasingly suggesting that simply spending time in nature has health benefits as diverse as protecting against heart diseases, depression and even cancer.


Outdoor holiday specialist Salop has investigated the top theories surrounding the health benefits of nature and why we should be getting out of the office and into the country more often.




The benefits of sunlight have already been reported in areas like mental health, particularly for treating depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but sunlight can do so much more for the human body.


Earlier this year, scientists at the University of Colorado found that, on average, people on camping trips are exposed to around 400% more sunlight than during their working week.


Whilst this may seem like a trivial figure, sunlight has a plethora of benefits for the human body. Firstly, sunlight causes the body to create vitamin D, which medical science suggests is the best of the vitamin alphabet.


Whilst other vitamins are necessary for a healthy body, epidemiologic research shows that vitamin D may have properties that will contribute to protecting against stroke and heart disease.


Furthermore, exposure to natural rather than manmade light, greatly affects the quality of sleep we get. The aforementioned University of Colorado researchers measured a group of volunteers’ melatonin (the hormone that creates sleepiness) levels during their normal lives and during a camping trip.


During their lives in the city, melatonin levels in the bloodstream were high several hours after waking. However, after a few days camping and with limited access to manmade light the subjects’ melatonin levels became higher at night and lower in the morning. Melatonin levels were essentially synchronising with the rising and setting sun. To cap it off, the subjects reported feeling better rested than they had before the trip.




How Walks in the Country Could Prevent Cancer

Exciting research from the Nippon Medical School into the traditional Shinto practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, has suggested that spending time in nature increases the number of natural killer cells (NK) in the human body.


NK are the elite guard of the immune; these lymphocytes fight off the worst infections and diseases and have even been shown to battle effectively against cancer.


Researchers led a 12-strong group of volunteers (all male and of a similar age) on a three-day shinrin-yoku in the Japanese forestry. Their NK levels were measured each day of the trip and the results were quite remarkable.


Each subject’s NK levels had increased since they went on the trip and were highest towards the end of the trip. This study was repeated several times with different groups of men in different areas of Japan and the results were the same.  What’s more, the subjects’ NK levels remained consistently high for around a month after the trip had ended.


A dozen Japanese men had their NK levels taken during their normal workaday lives. They then had the same tests done twice during a three-day shinrin-yoku. The results were nothing short of astounding. Not only were the NK levels much higher than in the pre-forest walking sample but the levels remained consistently high for nearly a month after the trip had ended.


Japanese scientists are now working feverishly to ascertain exactly why this is the case, as the potential benefits to staving off infections are incredible.


Science may not have all the answers yet, but mother-nature has a fair few health and wellness secrets up her sleeves.

Comments are closed.