Some of us know intuitively that spending time in the natural world has a positive impact on our feelings of wellbeing, but what’s the evidence for how nature is good for us?

Our review of relevant literature convincingly demonstrates that contact with the natural world (through active interaction or even passive contemplation) can affect your health and wellbeing in countless positive ways. Here are just a few findings.

  • Access to nature in or near the workplace is related to lower levels of perceived job stress and higher levels of job satisfaction. The natural world has a restorative effect on our tired minds, allowing our senses to relax, infusing us with fresh energy and rebuilding our capacity to pay focused attention (1)
  • Employees with views of nature in their workplace report fewer illnesses and headaches (2)
  • Being in nature is associated with greater feelings of vitality, irrespective of whether this involves exercising or socializing (3)
  • People living in the greenest environments report fewer symptoms of ill health and greater perceived general health (4)
  • The presence of flowers and plants in a workplace increases cognitive functioning, resulting in a 15% rise in innovative ideas and more creative problem solving, when compared with a control group with no greenery (5)

“We need the tonic of wildness….At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and un-explorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, un-surveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature”

Thoreau 1854


(1) & (2) Kaplan, R. & Kaplan, S. (1989) The Experience of Nature: A Psychological Perspective. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
(3) Ryan, R.M., Weinstein, N., Bernstein, J., Brown, K.W., Mistretta, L., & Gagne, M. (2010). Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30, 159–168
(4) De Vries, S., Verheij, R.A., Groenewegen, P.P., Spreeuwenberg, P. (2003) Natural environments – healthy environments?: An exploratory analysis of the relationship between green space and health. Environment and Planning 35, 1717-1731
(5) Ulrich, as quoted in Chalquist, C. (2009). A look at the ecotherapy research evidence. Ecopsychology, 1(2), 64-74Preferences