Mother Nature to the Rescue: The Impact of Nature on Health and Well-Being
For some, they thrive under the busy and fast-paced atmosphere of the city. But for others, it’s the small town-feel that allows them to flourish. In whichever setting you prefer, it is important to recognize the impact of nature on health. Even though Hamilton is considered a relatively urban community, it still has many green spaces available for the public to enjoy. There is a growing body of evidence that supports both physical activity and exposure to nature are linked to improved general and mental health. The following will outline specific physiological and psychological changes experienced by those who participate in nature-oriented activities.
- Suppresses sympathetic nervous activity –> decreases blood pressure and pulse rate
- Increases parasympathetic nervous activity –> promotes relaxation
- Decreased cortisol levels –> also known as the “stress hormone”
- Enhanced immune function –> decreases your risk of getting sick!
Source: Physiological and psychological responses of young males during spring-time walks in urban parks. http://www.jphysiolanthropol.com/content/33/1/8.
- The closer you live to green spaces, the more likely you will decrease risk of developing depression and anxiety disorders
- Abundance of greenery in a neighbourhood is connected to increased happiness, reduced mental distress, and reduced stress
- Exposure to nature also helps with regulating sleep patterns
Source: The Relationship between Perceived Health and Physical Activity Indoors, Outdoors in Built Environments, and Outdoors in Nature. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25044598.
Resources & Programming
The Student Wellness Centre and Outdoor Recreation (a division of Athletics and Recreation) present WIND. With WIND, you can get outside and leave your worries behind, by getting into nature with others in a positive, mutually supportive environment. No experience or skills required, just you and your hiking/walking shoes. Email us to let us know you are coming or just show up! (email@example.com)
Explore the different trails available using this trail map on http://hamiltonburlingtontrails.ca/trail-map/
Hamilton is home to more than a hundred breathtaking waterfalls – check out this website to catch a glimpse of each one: http://www.cityofwaterfalls.ca/
NATURE AT McMASTER
Outlines a variety of nature-related activities including “Back to Nature” and “Birds and Biodiversity” walks. Their website gives an overview of upcoming events: https://nature.mcmaster.ca/events-and-opportunities