Skip to Content

Study: Nature Engagement Linked to Reduced Inflammation Levels

Study: Nature Engagement Linked to Reduced Inflammation Levels

Sharing is caring!


As we get sucked deep into our smartphones and mindless scrolling, it’s easy to get stuck indoors and lose touch with nature. A new study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine suggests that regularly engaging with the great outdoors may have direct mental and physical health benefits by keeping inflammation at bay.

Study findings

The research examined data from 1,244 adults in the U.S. who reported how frequently they had pleasant experiences in nature like going on walks or spending time in public parks and gardens, and then tested their blood samples to measure three different inflammatory markers.

People who more frequently had positive nature encounters tended to have lower levels of systemic inflammation. This relationship held true even after accounting for factors like age, socioeconomic status, exercise habits, and psychological well-being.

How is it that an occasional park stroll or backyard gardening session can help keep inflammation in check? The researchers point to established theories about how immersing ourselves in nature allows our overstressed brains to hit the reset button. By providing a healthy mental distraction from daily hassles, interacting with green spaces may prevent our bodies from unnecessarily jacking up the inflammatory response.

Chronic inflammation is a key driver of numerous diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel issues to cancer, diabetes, heart disease and depression. Experiencing the calming effects of nature may be one way to put the brakes on this insidious process.

Study limitations

These results are limited by the fact that it was an observational study, so it doesn’t prove that nature directly causes reduced inflammation. But it adds to the growing body of evidence that getting outdoors and tuning into the natural world is good for our mental and physical health.

You don’t need to go on an epic wilderness excursion to start reaping the anti-inflammatory perks. A stroll through your local neighborhood park, tending to your garden, or even just opening the windows to let in some fresh air could be enough to lift your mood and chill out your overactive immune system.

It’s easy to become disconnected from nature when you’re glued to your phone, social media, and emails every day. But setting aside some time for “outdoor therapy” could be another tool in the shed to help you keep inflammation down. Perhaps a little greenery a day is what keeps the doctor away in 2024!

Reference: Ong AD, Cintron DW, Fuligni GL. Engagement with nature and proinflammatory biology. Brain Behav Immun. 2024 Mar 29;119:51-55. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2024.03.043. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38555989.

Sharing is caring!