Hanauma Bay, Hawaii. Photo: Jason Maddock, CC BY-SA

By Jay Maddock, Texas A&M University

Taking a walk on a wooded path, spending an afternoon in a public park, harvesting your backyard garden and even looking at beautiful pictures of Hawaii can all make us feel good. Certainly, for many of us, it’s beneficial to have time outside in natural environments. Being cooped up inside can feel unnatural and increase our desire to get outside. The renowned biologist E.O. Wilson created a theory called the biophilia hypothesis, where he stated that people have an innate relationship to nature.

On an intuitive level, this makes sense. Humans evolved in an open, natural environment and removing us from this environment could have a negative effect on our health. But what does the research say? Is there actually evidence that being in natural environments can promote our well-being, prevent disease and speed recovery?

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