Spending Time in Green Spaces
How does participating in Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation Programs help to support your health and well-being along with the health of the environment around you? The Parks Foundation has partnered with Healthy Parks Healthy People to bring awareness to the idea that nature and green spaces are all around us and interacting with our local environment can result in incredible health benefits.
The Healthy Parks Healthy People movement promotes the idea that spending time in green spaces can have significant health benefits, such as reducing stress levels, improving mood and mental health, increasing physical activity, and promoting overall well-being. The initiative encourages people to get outside and explore their local parks and green spaces whether it's through hiking, biking, walking, or simply enjoying the beauty of nature. By doing so, individuals can experience the physical and mental benefits of spending time in nature, while also supporting the health of the natural environment.
In addition to promoting individual health and well-being, Healthy Parks Healthy People also seeks to promote the conservation and protection of natural areas. By raising awareness of the connection between human health and the health of the natural environment, the initiative aims to inspire people to take action to protect and preserve green spaces for future generations. Through these efforts, Healthy Parks Healthy People seeks to promote a healthier, happier, and more sustainable world for all.
Spending time in green spaces is not only enjoyable but has a myriad of health benefits. In this blog post we'll explore three specific benefits of spending time in green spaces: mental health, sleep improvement, and immune system function.
One of the most significant benefits of spending time in green spaces is the positive impact on mental health. Studies have shown that exposure to nature can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Spending time outdoors has also been linked to improved mood, increased self-esteem, and decreased symptoms of ADHD. Nature has a vast definition. It can mean green spaces like parks, woodland, or forests and blue spaces like rivers, wetlands, or beaches. It also includes trees on a city street, private gardens, and even indoor plants and window boxes. So whether it's a walk through a park, a hike in the mountains, or simply sitting on a bench in a garden, being surrounded by any kind of nature can have a calming and rejuvenating effect on the mind.
Another benefit of spending time in nature is the improvement of sleep quality. When the body is exposed to natural light and fresh air during the day it can help regulate circadian rhythms, which are crucial for quality sleep. Circadian rhythms are the body's internal clock and work as part of a 24-hour cycle that runs in the background to carry out essential functions and processes. One of the most important and well-known circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cycle. This internal clock is directly influenced by environmental cues, especially light, which is why circadian rhythms are tied to the cycle of day and night. When properly aligned, a circadian rhythm can promote consistent and restorative sleep. But when this circadian rhythm is thrown off, it can create significant sleep problems, including insomnia. Research also reveals that circadian rhythms play an integral role in diverse aspects of physical and mental health. Additionally, physical activity such as walking or hiking outdoors can help tire the body and promote better sleep. A study conducted by the University of Illinois found that participants who spent time in nature slept better and woke up feeling more refreshed than those who did not.
Immune System Function
Finally, spending time in green spaces can help boost the immune system. Studies have shown that exposure to nature can increase the production of white blood cells, which help fight off infections and diseases. Being in nature also reduces stress levels, which can have a positive impact on how the immune system functions. A study by the University of Tokyo found that spending time in a forest can increase natural killer cell activity, which is crucial for fighting cancer cells and viruses.
When we are interconnected with surrounding nature, our bodies, and our minds, we will begin to experience benefits throughout our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Spending time in green spaces has numerous benefits for overall health and wellness. From improving mental health to promoting better sleep and boosting the immune system, there are many reasons to get outside and enjoy nature. So the next time you're feeling stressed or anxious, consider walking in the park or spending some time in a garden. Your mind and body will thank you for it.
About the Author:
Julia graduated from Western Connecticut State University earning a BS in Health Promotion Studies, with a concentration in community health and a minor in holistic health. Julia is passionate about helping people lead healthier and more active lifestyles. After graduating college she spent 2 months in Costa Rica studying yoga and meditation where she received her 200 hour YTT certification. She is excited to join the Truckee Meadows Parks foundation as the Programs and Events Coordinator where she gets to work on projects that combine her love for health education and promoting the benefits of spending time outdoors. Outside of work she loves practicing yoga, and spending her free time exploring the outdoors.