1. Immunity boost
Spending time in forests, in particular, helps you fight off infections of all kinds through your inhalation of phytoncides, or chemicals emitted by plants to ward off insects. Studies have found our bodies respond to these by creating more of a type of white blood cell known as “natural killers,” which are the backbone of our immune system and can defeat disease-causing cells.
2. Vitamin D
There are few natural food sources for this essential vitamin; milk and other foods are fortified with D to compensate, but most of our bodily supply comes from casual exposure to sunshine as UV rays reach the skin and trigger its creation. The vitamin in turn regulates your calcium and phosphate supply, which is critical for healthy bones and teeth.
3. Stress and mood
Spending time in the forest, whether exercising or just looking at trees, has been proven to lower blood pressure and stress-related hormones like cortisol, elevate mood and reduce fatigue. Simply looking at pictures of trees does some of the same things for us, but the results aren’t as dramatic as being immersed in the real thing.
People, especially children, tend to exercise more while they’re outside, in part because they’re already benefitting from the positive mental health gains from being outdoors. Simply walking in the forest can make us feel less lonely and reduce depression, especially when partaking in it with friends.
5. Reduced risk of heart attack, diabetes and obesity
Another hormone found to increase with time in nature is adiponectin, which regulates blood glucose levels and reduces chronic low-level inflammation. Diabetic patients who spent time walking in a forest or green space were found to have significantly improved blood glucose levels.