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Being in Nature Is Good for Your Mind, Body and Even Diet!

By Jiri Kaloc

We know that spending quality time in green spaces is good for physical and mental health. New research suggests that being connected to nature can improve our diet too. Can riding your bike among the trees help you eat better?

Health benefits of being in nature

Most people feel good and more relaxed in nature as opposed to a busy city. The interesting thing is that nature seems to be good for us in other ways too. Authors of an evidence review from 2021 summarized the effects of nature exposure on health. The list of benefits is quite impressive.

  • Improved cognitive function and brain activity
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved mental health
  • More physical activity
  • Improved sleep
  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
Cycling in nature
Slow down and enjoy your surroundings on your ride. © Profimedia

Let’s add diet to the list

A study from 2022 suggests that being connected to nature might have a new benefit – an improved diet. The authors surveyed 300 people to measure their connection to nature and assess their diet. The results showed that participants with a stronger connection to nature had a more varied diet and ate more fruits and vegetables.

“Nature relatedness has been associated with better cognitive, psychological and physical health and greater levels of environmental stewardship. Our findings extend this list of benefits to include dietary intake. We found people with higher nature relatedness were more likely to report healthful dietary intake, including greater dietary variety and higher fruit and vegetable consumption,” said Brandy-Joe Milliron, PhD, a lead author of the study.

The authors also say that when you’re trying to improve your diet, connecting a nature-based activity to that might be a good idea. This makes cycling in greenery an ideal complement to eating better.

“This work can impact health promotion practices in two ways. First, nature-based health promotion interventions may increase nature relatedness across the lifespan and potentially improve dietary intake. And second, augmenting dietary interventions with nature-based activities may lead to greater improvements in dietary quality,” concluded Milliron.

Forest bathing on a bike

Walking mindfully in a forest is a health-boosting Japanese tradition they call forest bathing. They established this tradition long before we had research about the health benefits. It involves walking slowly and paying attention to all five senses. You can do the same while cycling. Simply slow down when you come upon a green area and enjoy your surroundings. It’s good for you and might just help you to eat well too.