Five Reasons Why Being in Nature is Good for You

An aerial shot of just a slice of PUC’s 1,600 acres.

There are countless studies about the health benefits of spending time in nature, from memory improvement to reducing stress to increasing creativity. With over 1,600 acres of land, PUC’s unique location promotes active learning, both in and outside of the classroom. Here are just five reasons why studying in an environment like PUC can be beneficial to both your physical and mental health.

It can reduce stress.

According to a 2014 study conducted in Japan, participants who walked in a forest showed significantly lower heart rates and higher heart rate variability (which indicates less stress and more relaxation) as well as reported having a better mood and less anxiety than participants who had taken a walk in an urban setting. A similar study in Finland came to the same conclusion, where participants took a walk for as little as 20 minutes and yet still exhibited positive results.

It can help prevent depression.

There are great psychological benefits to spending time in nature, one of which being that it can help prevent depression. A 2015 study conducted by Stanford University featured in The Atlantic found participants who took a 90-minute walk through nature had less obsessive and negative thoughts than participants who walked in an urban setting.

Editor’s Note: Depression and anxiety are serious issues and nature isn’t always the cure. If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, please seek professional assistance for their input on how best to proceed.

It can help increase short-term memory.

One health benefit to being in a rural setting that might be of particular interest to college students is that it has been linked to improving short-term memory, which can be helpful if you need to do some last minute cramming! In a 2008 study by the University of Michigan, participants were split into two groups following a memory test; a group that walked around an arboretum while the other walked down a busy city street. Upon their return, all participants took the test again, and those who walked among trees scored close to 20 percent better compared to the first time they took the test. The results for the group who walked on the street did not improve.

It increases creativity.

The more time you spend outdoors and away from the stresses of daily life, the greater your level of creativity, according to an article by the Huffington Post. A group of backpackers were given the Remote Associates Test, a standard test of creativity, before going on a long hike. Another group of backpackers were given the test as well, but this time it was proctored four days into their hike. These backpackers scored nearly 50 percent higher in creativity compared to the first group.

It makes you happier.

According to a study from 2014 featured in Psychology Today, there is a direct correlation between nature and happiness. Participants were asked a series of questions to measure their connectedness to things such as family, friends, country, culture, music, and nature. Researchers found the relationship between nature and happiness was highly significant.

There are endless opportunities to spend time in nature at PUC; from biology research trips in Alaska to working with the Land Trust of Napa County to clear shrubbery in a nearby forest. There are also several outdoor exercise science courses, such as canoeing, cycling, and jogging in the college’s forest property. PUC has also offered several specialized summer courses, including workshops on watercolor and biology research, at the Albion Retreat and Learning Center, the college’s field station on the Mendocino coast. Come be a PUC Pioneer and immerse yourself in God’s beautiful Creation. To talk with an enrollment counselor, email enroll@puc.edu or call (800) 862-7080, option 2.

Students enjoy a run on one of the many trails of the college’s property.

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