Health and Well-Being Outdoors

Go wild and enjoy the refreshing and revitalising great outdoors! Nature has always nurtured human well-being. Our relationship with time spent in nature used to form part of our work and even our struggle to survive. These days, most people spend free time outdoors, in search of a better quality of life.  

Photo: Petri Jauhiainen

Natural environments and exercise in the open air offer a solution to the health and wellbeing shortcomings of today's society. Such shortcomings include physical inactivity, sedentary lifestyles and higher obesity rates, as well as the related health risks such as cardiovascular disease, mental health problems and type 2 diabetes. Lacking a connection to nature can reduce your capacity to maintain your physical and mental health and your social well-being.

It has been scientifically proven that nature improves our health and well-being in at least three ways:

  • Time spent in the natural environment increases physical activity: Nature entices people to get moving. Without noticing it, we move around more briskly outdoors and activity feels less onerous than when inside.  
  • Nature revitalises us and helps us to recover from stress: It improves our ability to focus and can also reduce our pulse rate and blood pressure.
  • Activity in the natural environment improves our social well-being and sense of community: We have more positive attitudes towards other people and our mood quickly improves.

Make a Point of Going Outdoors

Nature can be enjoyed in many ways: hiking, paddling, fishing or geocaching, for example. When you spend time in a natural environment, the smells, sounds and visual and physical experiences around you create an overall, multisensory sense of well-being whose effects will last after you return indoors.

Remember to Make the Natural Environment Part of Your Daily Life

You can make nature part of your everyday life by travelling to work, school, the grocery store or your hobbies through parks and forests, or along waterfronts. Potted plants increase well-being indoors. A green living environment contributes to health and well-being in several ways. Greener urban areas result in improved mental well-being, a sense of contentedness and even healthier sleeping patterns, regardless of one's income level.

Enjoy Nature through Images and Landscapes

Simply catching sight of a photo or a video of natural surroundings, or of a landscape through a window is enough to soothe the mind and improve one's mood and concentration. It can also reduce physical symptoms and accelerate recovery from illnesses. Placing a large image of natural scenery in school or meeting premises can increase creativity and productivity, and lift the general mood.  

Further information on the health effects of time spent in the natural environment:

See Also

Even a Short Time in Natural Surroundings Helps

  • 5 minutes: Better mood.
  • 15–20 minutes: Vitality increases and blood pressure drops.
  • Spending at least 5 hours a month in urban green spaces, or spending time in natural environments outside cities at least 2–3 times a month, significantly increases the mental well-being of city dwellers.