When journalist Richard Louv interviewed thousands of children and parents across the United States for his book on family dynamics in the 1990s, a common theme emerged: Kids were better off when they spent time outside.
"Even then, parents were reporting a divide between the young and the natural world, and the social, spiritual, and psychological implications of this change. But at that point, there was little research about the divide or the benefits of nature to human development," Louv tells mbg.
Today, the science exists to prove their suspicion. Studies out of Japan found that taking a walk in greenery brings the average city dweller a 12 percent decrease in cortisol levels and 7 percent decrease in sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nerve activity. Others found that the act of wandering in a forest can actually reduce inflammation in the body. Researchers in the United States concluded that 90 minutes of exposure to the natural world is enough to quell negative thought patterns and may therefore lower risk of depression. And that's just the beginning of the new and fascinating research on nature's healing touch.