Ecotherapy Has Physical and Emotional Benefits: Regular contact with natural environments is an essential part of optimal health and well-being for the mind and the body.
barefoot in nature
Spring is the perfect time to shake off the winter blues and get outside to experience the healing power of nature, says Kurt Beil, a naturopathic doctor and the owner of Hudson Valley Natural Health in Mount Kisco. “More than just helping us feel good, research shows that having regular contact with natural environments is an essential part of optimal health and well-being for the mind and the body,” Beil says.
Recent research indicates that being in a natural environment has a variety of physical and emotional benefits, including lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, boosting immune function, improving mood, stimulating creativity, increasing compassion and empathy and sharpening attention and concentration. It has also been linked to lower rates of heart disease, depression, immune-system and digestive problems and even cancer, Beil says.
Like many medical providers with a holistic, natural approach to health care, Beil incorporates ecotherapy into his treatment plans. “Preventive medicine services are starting to write ‘park prescriptions’ to patients for time outside,” he notes. “There is even evidence that observing nature images on a picture or screensaver can be beneficial for those stuck in a windowless office, or with mobility or access issues that are significant barriers to experiencing the outdoors.”
As the weather warms, he suggests going to a park or planting a garden. “It might just be the thing you need to improve your health.”