Against respiratory diseases
Adonina Tardón, from the Spanish Epidemiology Society (SEP) and professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University of Oviedo, goes back to the 19th century, when tuberculosis was raging, to explain that "the relationship between clean air and health reaches us when it is discovered that the bacteria of communicable respiratory diseases die when exposed to the sun. The air killed the bugs, and this argument left the field of medicine to curdle in popular wisdom. "
Antidote to myopia
One of the most curious works has to do with sight and has been carried out at Sun Yat-sen University, in Guangzhou (China). There, Dr. Mingguang He's team has conducted a study to analyze whether increasing the number of hours spent in outdoor activities could reduce the incidence of childhood myopia, which is sweeping Asia. After three years of research, it was found that the disease had continued to climb ranks among schoolchildren who spent less time in sunlight. 39% had myopia, compared to 30% of those who enjoyed more hours in open spaces.
It's good for brain development
Children are the population that researchers have focused the most on. Different studies have shown the benefits of spending as much time as possible in natural environments. This year a Spanish work has been published that reports a link between exposure to green spaces in school and cognitive development in primary school students. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and directed by two CREAL researchers, Payam Dadvand and Jordi Sunyer, gives a boost to something that was believed to be true, but about what little evidence was available: contact with nature it plays an irreplaceable role in brain development.
After twelve months of tests in different Barcelona schools, it was shown that, with green areas, cognitive development improves by 5%, especially in terms of the speed with which simple and complex information is processed. Not only does it improve cognition, but also other parameters such as blood pressure: according to a study carried out by the University of Coventry, in the United Kingdom, children who do green exercise, that is, in open spaces, reduce their blood pressure more than if they did it in closed environments.
Helps recover from medical operations
Beyond the child population, since the eighties studies on the matter do not stop happening. One of the most relevant researchers, Roger Ulrich, an expert in environmental psychology at the Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg (Sweden), has been doing work for more than three decades that demonstrates the benefits of nature on health. In one of them, he divided a group of patients who were recovering from a gallbladder operation into two types of rooms: overlooking trees and buildings. And he saw that those housed in the former needed less painkillers, were better patients and were discharged three days earlier than those who only saw antennas and roofs.
Fight stress and depression
Another study from the 1980s set out to check the effects of green areas on stress levels. To do this, he subjected a group of volunteers to a very stressful virtual car trip; then he sent half for a walk in a park full of trees, and the other half waited for them inside the building. In just three minutes, the blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension of those in the park had dropped dramatically compared to those who stayed indoors.
Our mental health and emotional balance also welcome walks in the countryside, say researchers from the University of Michigan, in the US Sara Warber, one of the authors, after verifying, according to her, "the absence of serious studies that confirmed how walking in nature affects well-being, "started a program, Walking for Health, in which 2,000 volunteers participated. For three months, half of them took walks in green spaces and the other half did not. After that time, Warber found that the former had less depression and feelings of stress and a better mood. And those who benefited the most were those who had recently suffered a traumatic event in their life, such as a divorce, the loss of a loved one or a serious illness. So Warber explains: "Something as simple as joining an outdoor activity can be an alternative approach to dealing with emotional problems like depression."