It’s been known since forever that nature is good for our health, and that spending time near water and trees makes us feel good and relieved. A British study revealed that people who live on coastal communities reported feeling healthier than those who lived further away from the sea. Does that mean that living in a city is less healthy than living in nature? How much “nature” does a person need to feel healthy?
While there are no scientific answers, the relationship between wellness and nature exists, and it’s very important no matter where you live. According to Popular Science, for people in cities, nature is necessary because the greenery absorbs pollution and eases their stress by separating them from loud noises and overpopulation.
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According to Catharine Ward Thompson, professor of landscape architecture at the University of Edinburgh, urban parks allow people to “get away from home” and to be in a place where they can separate themselves from their responsibilities and demands. She also says that these spaces give people the opportunity to refocus, allowing themselves to be immersed by the sights, sounds, and smells of nature, which in turn distract them without demanding their attention.
Visiting a park, lake or a forest can also make us more active. When working out in these spaces, time passes by faster because of the views, prompting people to have more fun and put more effort in our exercise. Breathing in the fresh air has also been linked with stronger immune systems.
For us to reap the benefits of nature it’s important to visit these spaces frequently. A survey conducted in the U.K. said that people who spend more time outdoors reported feeling like their lives had more meaning than others who reported not caring much about nature. But in order for us to want to go to parks, they must be engaging. These spaces should feature bathrooms, benches and fauna we can frolic in! (Okay, at least touch).
For now, it seems like including nature into our everyday lives is the future of urban design. William Sullivan, another professor of landscape architecture, believes that including nature in everyday designs will satisfy our need to be in contact with it and will also contribute to the preservation of the environment.“We’re going to have a really significant opportunity to redesign urban spaces to be nature-rich. That will reduce flooding and reduce the urban heat island effect and improve air quality and store much more carbon than we’re currently storing in cities—and in doing so reap all these other cool benefits for human health and wellbeing.”