• There’s good reason to think spending time in forests, hiking in mountains, and just spending time outside has huge health benefits.
  • Studies have shown that walking in the woods can improve everything from blood pressure to mental health to cancer risk.
  • So go spend some time “forest-bathing” and improve your health.

Many people spend workdays indoors under fluorescent lights and in front of computers, then return home to bask in the glow of television screens.

But spending too much time inside isn’t good for us. And nature is beneficial — maybe essential — for human health. Psychologists and health researchers are finding more and more science-backed reasons we should spend time outside.

In her book, “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative,” journalist Florence Williams writes that she started investigating the health benefits of nature after moving from the mountainous terrain of Boulder, Colorado, to what she describes as “the anti-Arcadia that is the nation’s capital” — Washington, DC.

“I felt disoriented, overwhelmed, depressed,” she wrote. “My mind had trouble focusing. I couldn’t finish thoughts. I couldn’t make decisions and I wasn’t keen to get out of bed.”

We don’t all need to live in a place as stunning as Boulder — and most of us can’t get live anywhere too remote for smartphones or internet access. 

But we do need to spend time in natural environments. That could be beautiful hiking trails or even just a nice park. Walk in the forest, play in the snow, swim in a river. Do whatever you can to expose yourself to the natural world around you.

Here’s why it’s so important.