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Health benefits of trees – what the scientists have discovered

For most of my life, I have loved being outdoors, and more specifically around trees. I thought it was a personal choice, as growing up in London, the outdoors gave me peace and quiet as well as my own space in which feel free and unhindered by my daily routine.

A pergola with trailing plants, and seating beneath, surrounded by trees and lawned areas. Very peaceful

Relaxing in the park – an opportunity for fresh air and tranquility

I thought it was just me that felt like that, but as the years have gone on, I have connected with many others who feel the same. It isn’t just me who feels truly alive when being outdoors alongside nature. There are millions of us!

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago I found out why and I want to share it with you.

I was fortunate enough to attend a conference run by the Arboricultural Association. They are a well respected professional organisation who initiate support, training and knowledge transfer within my industry.

They cover all sorts of topics, and this year it was about the health benefits of trees, and green vegetation in general really.

To my surprise I sat through countless presentations by medical professionals who had been studying the subject of greenery and human health for many years. I had no idea this research had even been taking place. Over that series of days I was to get the pearls of wisdom that surpassed all my expectations.

There were experiments undertaken in hospitals where the recovery rate for patients who could see greenery from their window, was compared to that of patients who couldn’t, and the results were dramatic. The patients who could see greenery recovered more quickly and felt much better than those who didn’t.

Apparently, even if you are unable to get outside, and experience it for yourself, such as the elderly or infirm then you can still benefit.

If you have a pot plant on your window sill or within your view at your place of work, it can also help.

How is this possible and why does it work?

It wasn’t until the last few speakers that I got one crucial answer that blew me away…

It’s all due to who we are. I don’t mean our social background or region where we live; it’s about our genetics. Not from our grandparents or immediate family, but our genetic makeup from when we were huntergathers millennia ago!

A tongue in cheek look at our evolution from primates to man to person sat hunched up staring at a computer

A tongue in cheek look at our evolution

Image from: http://newsingreateratlanta.com/the-true-hunter-gatherer-needs-to-return/

The article is a tongue in cheek look at this subject and is well worth a read!

You see, despite our evolution with technology since the industrial revolution; where we moved from a farming (rural based) life to an industrial (urban based) life, our genetic makeup is still as it was many thousands and thousands of years ago. Genetic changes do not happen quickly apparently.

That is why we naturally feel more comfortable and at ease in the outdoors; after all it is where we knew we could survive, and the level of sensory and physical activity we sustained to survive there also made us feel well.

So many people feel stress and anxiety as though they are not happy with the things they have or do in their lives. But once they go for a walk they feel more relaxed and release all the thoughts of matters that concerned them.

Sitting at my desk typing this, is not only a restful activity, but one that produces the production of free radicals which toxify the body. More of us feel unwell and low, as we are segregated from each other and the outdoors, by the choices of our daily living. An example of this is an office based job and then watching tv for hours when you get home from work. Or excessive use of our mobile phones and other electrical devices.

So get outdoors and do yourself a favour…

Not only can you experience a snippet of what is going on in nature at the time of your walk, but you can help yourself to experience a health that requires little or no expense and a moderate amount of effort, (depending on your choice of activity); the rewards are immeasurable!