Our need for the outdoors: The role of nature during COVID-19

Research on the connection between human health and exposure to nature started to get a foothold in the early 1980s. The renowned biologist E. O. Wilson hypothesized that humans had an innate connection to nature. At the same time, Roger Ulrich, a professor of architecture at Texas A&M University, was looking at how surgery patients with a view of a natural scene out of their windows recovered compared to those with a brick wall outside. He found that patients with a natural view were discharged faster and used less painkillers than their counterparts.

Since the 1980s and especially in the past five years, the research on the connection between health and natural environments has expanded rapidly. The evidence is clear in the hospital setting that exposure to natural light, windows, and healing gardens are related to reduced stress, improved healing, and reduced use of pain medicines. New phases of research are examining how spending time in nature can actually help prevent disease, improve concentration, and reduce stress.

Read more from Jay Maddock, PhD; Bita Kash, PhD; and Taylor Keys from the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice Direct here.