Spending more time in nature can give you a positive body image, study claims

Mother Nature is more powerful than we realise

Sabrina Barr
Monday 22 January 2018 19:06 GMT

Enjoying some fresh air once in a while can do a whole lot of good for your health and mental state.

However, the benefits of Mother Nature are even more far-reaching than you may have realised.

If you’re struggling with body confidence issues, going for a brisk walk in the park could help you boost your self-esteem.

In a recent study published in the journal Body Image, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University, Perdana University and University College London explored the effect that exposure to nature has on people with body insecurities.

The researchers conducted five studies in total, three of which evaluated British university students by presenting them with photographs of natural and built environments.

In the fourth study, participants went for a walk in a natural or built environment and in the fifth study, people who were already entering an area of greenery on their own accord were enrolled in the study and assessed.

Results from all five of the studies indicated that spending more time in nature can lead to a more positive body image.

Viren Swami, professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin university and lead author of the study, explained why the study led to such emphatic results.

“There are several reasons why exposure to nature could be having this effect on positive body image,” he said.

“It might be that it distances people, physically and mentally, from appearance-focused situations that are one of the causes of negative body image.

“It is also possible that exposure to environments with depth and complexity restricts negative appearance-related thoughts,” he continued.

“More specifically, natural environments effortlessly hold your attention - a process known as ‘soft fascination’.

“This is often accompanied by feelings of pleasure, such as when you are drawn to the sight of a setting sun.”

He also made the point that spending more time outdoors may encourage people to give greater appreciation to the incredible functionality of their bodies, as opposed to their physical appearances.

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