Your parents were onto something when they forced you to go on summer car trips to visit national parks, or when they shuffled you out the front door to play outside in the fresh air.
You may have groaned at the time—and new generations of children may be rolling their eyes at the same thing—but science has proven parents right: Several studies published over the past year, including one in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, confirm the mental health benefits of spending time in nature.
We’ve all heard about the physical benefits of a walk or a hike, but even a short stroll in nature can decrease negative thinking, combat stress, and alleviate fatigue, a Stanford University study suggests. And other research has found that exposure to sunlight can boost vitamin D levels and elevate your mood.
Any green space will do, but we say go for the gusto and spend time in a national park. The National Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary throughout 2016, so get out and reap the benefits of seeing our nation’s parks for yourself.
From World Wildlife magazine, summer 2016
Photo © National Park Service