Have you ever considered what nature can do for you?

At Rock-N-Water, I think we do a good job championing the message of experiencing God in His creation as seen in our love and value for getting into the outdoors. At the very least, we know it’s fun.

Recently a podcast by Hidden Brain was brought to my attention revealing that the outdoors may be more than something to simply enjoy or use as a growth and ministry tool. Scientist Ming Kuo, of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, sat down with Shankar Vendantam, host of National Public Radio’s show Hidden Brain and discussed the findings of her work studying the effects of nature on humans over the past 30 years.

Kuo says,

“We are overlooking a crucial ingredient in the urban fabric, which is nature and elements of nature. So parks and greenery turn out to be not just something that brightens our lives but turns out to be really functional. It helps us be our better selves.”

This is interesting to consider in light of the fact that, until more recently, humans have interacted very intimately with nature for the majority of our existence. Vendantam states:

“The amount of time we’ve spent in urban dwellings is a small sliver of the total time humans have spent on earth. When you look at it this way, our shift from forest life to freeways and over flowing cities has been very recent and very dramatic.”

Taste Testing

Kuo presents lots of really interesting results from her studies that invite us to value and interact with nature more. Here’s a snippet of what she’s got to share,

“So, for instance, one of the things we find is that when you look out at a green landscape, even from indoors, your heart rate will go down, and you’ll change from sympathetic nervous activity over to parasympathetic nervous activity, which is basically going from what we call fight or flight into tend and befriend mode. So it has these very systematic physiological impacts on us, which we also know have long-term health outcomes associated with them.”

So do the outdoors benefit us more than we’ve originally thought? You decide for yourself and tell us what you think! Give it a listen here or you can also read the transcript.

Check out the podcast for yourself because there’s plenty more where that came from! Kuo even gives us some personal insight on how to incorporate nature and it’s goodness into our regular lives. There might be something in there to incorporate into the new year!