There is a wealth of natural and green spaces throughout Great Britain and Ireland. Each area is unique and has its own history. In 2019 alone, the Office for National Statistics published that nature provided around £12 billion in revenue through the tourism and outdoor leisure sector.
Natural England also recorded that in January 2022, 61% of adults in England stated they had spent time in natural and green spaces in the past two weeks. Nearly four in ten adults say that green and natural spaces have become important to their well-being over the past few years, this raises questions on how it could improve your life. Could it, in theory, make you live longer?
Here, with some insights from the Off-Grid Gas Division at Flogas, we’ll have a look at how embracing nature and the outdoors could have benefits for your health.
Happiness & mental health
Within the past decade, mental health has become a more openly discussed topic. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, or increased stress, The Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing in England found that around 1 in 6 people suffered from some form of mental health issue in the past week.
The effect of poor mental health on physical health is well documented, so this can affect your overall lifespan. However, green and natural spaces and getting outdoors can have a positive impact on your mental well-being. It sounds clichéd but research by the National Garden Scheme found that 85% of respondents felt that visiting a garden space improves their mental state. Similarly, a study done by researchers at Cornell University showed that just 10 minutes of time outdoors can have a huge impact on happiness, reducing both physical and mental stress.
By reducing the amount of stress placed on your mind you’re putting less strain on the rest of your body too. This could result in an extended lifespan, giving you more time to explore the vast spaces throughout the country.
Exercise & physical health
When it comes to living a long and full life, exercise and physical health are often pointed to as the most crucial thing to get a hang of.
Exercising outdoors is a great alternative to heading to the gym. Activities such as hiking or walking can help to not only lose weight but also keep your body active and allow positive endorphins to flood your brain. In fact, several studies have been conducted into how much easier it is to exercise outdoors. It is so much easier, in fact, that we’re beginning to see “Green Gyms” springing up all over the country.
Being out in the sun can also have a huge impact on our physical health. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey discovered that 1 in 6 adults in the UK have low Vitamin D levels. This is vital for our bodies as it helps strengthen both the bones and muscles in our body. The longer we keep our bodies healthy and mobile, the longer we will be able to sustain ourselves.
If the occasional trip into nature is good for longer life, deciding to leave city living behind and embrace rural landscapes for your day-to-day is another fantastic option. This isn’t feasible for those who have roots in cities and towns but there are a lot of positives to making the switch.
Rural environments have less air and noise pollution than the hearts of cities or even most towns. With fewer cars and less footfall, you’re more likely to feel more relaxed with a clearer headspace. In fact, researchers at the University of Michigan found that spending too much time in city centres can have anegative impact on our cognitive functions.
Moving out of the city also means moving towards a healthier diet and lifestyle. Rural villages have greater access to locally sourced organic food and products. On top of this, having the option to go on scenic walks whenever you please can have a massively positive affect on your health.
You also have a lot more freedom in rural spaces to live by your own means. Whether that’s growing and farming your own food sources or disconnecting from national sources with off-grid gas, this can greatly reduce the stress of everyday city life. You may also get cows, horses or cattle to graze on your farmland.
There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that outdoor lifestyles can make a huge contribution to living a longer and happier life. With scientific studies backing up the positive impact of nature and green spaces can have on mental health; we can glean that reducing mental strain can help your physical health flourish. Exercising outdoors can also massively improve your life expectancy. For a more radical option, swapping city life for a more rural environment also offers a change that could positively affect your life in the long run.