There are 6 Official Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine and now mounting evidence that supports daily exposure to nature and fresh air are also vital to optimizing overall physical and mental health. Time spent in nature been shown to help lower blood pressure, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem. Moreover, the evidence demonstrates associations between greenness and overall improved health. In a study of 20,000 people, a team led by Matthew White of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter, found that people who spent two hours a week in green spaces-local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spaced over several visits-were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t. The positive effects of time spent in nature spanned across different occupations, ethnic groups, financial status and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Additionally, studies have shown that the effects of nature may go deeper than providing a sense of well-being by helping to reduce crime and aggression. A 2015 study of 2,000 people in the United Kingdom found that more exposure to nature translated into more community cohesion and substantially lower crime rates. “Forest Bathing” is the term coined by Japanese researchers for walking in the woods. It is suspected that aerosols from the forests which are inhaled during walking, are responsible for elevated levels of Natural Killer (NK) cells in the immune system which can help to fight off infections and tumors.
In a culture of ever-increasing technology and screen time, now more than ever it is crucial to educate and empower patients to incorporate nature into therapeutic treatment regimens.
Dr. Melissa Sundermann, a board-certified Lifestyle Medicine physician and avid outdoors aficionado, will demonstrate the potential benefits of fresh air, share evidence supporting nature and healing and provide tools to help engage patients to achieve more time spent outdoors.
- Demonstrate the potential benefits of fresh air and nature with regards to physical and mental health
- Share evidence supporting the role of nature and healing
- Provide tools to help engage individuals to achieve more time spent outdoors