Can you prescribe nature?

“Here’s your prescription, walk in the forest five times a week for an hour.”

The BBC reports that, according to experts, it is not inconceivable that doctors will be giving health advice like this in the not too distant future.

After decades of research, the scientific world is moving closer to pinpointing how exposure to nature seems to promote well-being.

A recent US study found that being close to nature might soothe the mind by reducing rumination – when negative thoughts get stuck on repeat, playing over and over in the mind.

A team at Stanford University compared the effects of taking a nature walk through a greenspace with a stroll in an urban environment – in this case beside a busy road in Palo Alto.

Brain scans showed reduced activity in an area of the brain linked to risk of mental illness in participants who took a 90-minute walk among oaks, birds and squirrels.

They also reported lower levels of rumination.

Gregory Bratman of Stanford University, one of the researchers on the study, says moving to cities has “happened in a blink of an eye in terms of human evolution”.

As he points out, never before have so many of us been removed from nature – already 50% of the global population lives in towns and cities; a figure that is projected to rise to 70% by 2050.

Some cities and nations are already thinking about the mental health benefits of nature when designing urban areas …

Read more here.

Can you prescribe nature?
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