Global Wellness Trend number 4:
“Imagine going to your doctor, and instead of a prescription for some pharmaceutical, you received a prescription for a 30-minute walk in nature. This is not far-fetched. Put down the Prozac and pick up your walking shoes. This is happening all over the world, and it’s only going to become more prevalent.
As people continue to be overworked and overwrought, they will answer the call of nature, so to speak. And it’s a call that comes from deep within, according to scientists who have been studying this. Nature Deficit Disorder has taken hold, and it’s real—this 24/7, digitally dominated, Instagram-able world is depriving humankind of some very basic, very important nourishment that comes from being outdoors. Much has been written about the evils (and glories) of technology, but the resulting dissociation from our natural surroundings leaves us emotionally and physically worse off. We are bereft of nature. Our bodies—and our minds—need nature. And as more evidence becomes available in mainstream media, more people will seek this “treatment,” and more physicians will be prescribing it. And the price is right, as it doesn’t cost anything to take a walk outside.
A growing number of doctors are “medicalizing nature” because of the medical evidence for its benefits: from the National Health Service in Shetland, Scotland, recently rolling out a whole “nature prescription” program to the pioneering Washington, D.C. program DC Park RX started by Dr. Robert Zarr to Dr. Qing Li at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, whose work on the eye-opening benefits of forest bathing have helped create 62 designated forest bathing therapy centers in Japan used by 5 million people a year.
The medical evidence for doses of nature is wide-ranging, from a study by the European Society of Cardiology finding that a brisk walk outdoors daily for 25 minutes could add at least three years to your life to others finding it helps repair DNA and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and certain cancers. It’s powerful medicine for our minds too, with studies indicating walks in nature engage the “default mode” brain network associated with stress-reduction and a boost in cognition, creativity and short-term memory.
Beyond formal nature prescriptions, this trend also spans a serious “back to nature” shift happening across the wellness world, from the rise of “green exercise” (in-nature workouts) offered at more fitness studios, such as the UK’s Biofit, to the continued surge in bringing nature and biophilic design into our homes, schools, offices and hospitals to the nonstop growth in forest bathing programs at wellness travel destinations—whether the luxe new ski resort Le Massif in the French Alps or at the Oberoi Sukhvilas wellness resort in India.
Look for nature to be a much-more-prescribed antidote for what ails us.”