Why Nature Makes Us Happy

Nov 20, 2017

There are scientists studying how spending time in nature restores us physically and mentally.

A cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Utah noticed that after he spent a few days backpacking in nature, he got great ideas. He wanted to quantify it, so he gave people pencil-and-paper tests before and after they took hikes. The scientist, Dr. David Strayer, found that the people experienced a 50 percent increase in their creativity after the hike.

Florence Williams is the author of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. She says even 15 minutes of walking in the woods reduces the blood pressure, reduce your cortisol stress hormones, and change your heart rate variability – all things that lead to better health.  

Credit Photo by Sue Barr

Florence Williams is a journalist and contributing editor to Outside magazine. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, and National Geographic among others. Her first book, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2012 and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science and Technology. Williams lives in Washington, DC.