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Interactive: How Does Nature Influence Human Health?

Time spent in natural environments is linked to improved physical and mental health, but researchers are only now beginning to dig into the mechanisms.

The Scientist Staff
Jan 8, 2020


Decades of observational studies have indicated that people who spend more time in nature tend to be healthier. Now, many researchers are advocating for doctors and health organizations to incorporate the findings into public health guidelines.

See “Time Spent in Nature is Good For You

But questions remain about the mechanisms underlying the link: Do natural environments themselves impart health benefits, or is the relationship merely correlational? What specific features of the environment are linked to improved health outcomes, and can they be harnessed by researchers to improve public health? 

Several research groups are now trying to answer these questions using a combination of observational, computational, and experimental approaches. Here, The Scientist explores some of those research projects in a series of articles on how natural environments affect human health.

Click on a circle below to read more about a particular proposed mechanism, and follow the link to learn about the latest research on the topic.