Health benefits of nature
University of Groningen, Netherlands
The idea that contact with nature can promote health and well-being has a long history in Western as well as non-Western cultures. In my lecture I will give an overview of empirical research on health benefits of nature. The lecture will start with an introduction to the concepts of ‘health’ and ‘nature’, followed by some examples of historical and contemporary practices in the use of nature for health purposes. I will then review the empirical evidence for health-nature relationships, along with a discussion of the possible mechanisms underlying these relationships. In particular, I will focus on stress reduction as the most important and well-documented explanation of health benefits of nature. I will reflect on the practical value of this emerging research area and its relevance for theoretical and methodological issues in environmental psychology.