Want to decrease the amount of medication you’re taking? Try going for a walk and spending some time out in nature. Nature only continues to prove its worth when it comes to health benefits. So, is nature the new medicine?
According to a new study published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, going for a walk in a park or along a lake or a tree-lined space may reduce the need for medication for anxiety, asthma, depression, high blood pressure, or insomnia. The study found that visiting nature three to four times a week was associated with 36 percent lower odds of using blood pressure pills, 33 percent lower odds of using mental health medications, and 26 percent lower odds of using asthma medications.
Using nature for medicine and healing isn’t a new concept by any means. For years science has backed the health benefits of nature. In the 1980s, Japan was credited with creating the title “forest bathing,” the act of totally immersing yourself in nature to disconnect and reconnect with your surroundings. The exercise quickly got touted as a form of ecotherapy, and researchers began studying the physiological benefits of forest bathing. They discovered what we’ve always known, time spent in nature is good for us and our health.
Another study led by Harvard and published in 2021 also found a correlation between nature and reduced blood pressure, showing that just 30 minutes outdoors can lower blood pressure by 10 percent.
Of course, we’re not saying to stop your medications and start relying on walks in the park. But, with time and with your doctor’s guidance, you might be able to reap the health benefits of nature and cut down on some of your medications.
To truly benefit, you can’t just look out the window. You need to actually engage with nature and truly be in it. And you don’t have to go to a forest. You can simply go for a walk in any natural environment. Just be mindful to consciously connect with what’s around you. Be present and in the moment.