I spent my childhood playing in the woods behind my house — building rock bridges in the stream, and catching crayfish, salamanders, and minnows in the eddies with little neon nets and my bare hands — but I am part of the generation that Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, has called increasingly the exception, not the rule.
As we have entered an era of accelerated technology, increased digital connection, growing urbanization, and more homes and offices in high rises, the temptation to spend more time away from nature has reached an all time high.
Our lifestyles are moving indoors and becoming more sedentary, as contrasted with previous eras in which we had no other options but to work and play outside. As a result, we are seeing physical health issues like obesity and mental health disorders like anxiety on the rise.
But while doctors may have all sorts of fancy names for various new and negative conditions we are encountering as a population, I prefer the term coined by Louv — “Nature Deficit Disorder.”
Fortunately, spending more time in natural areas is one drug-free and cost-free remedy at our disposal. And while the subjective benefits of doing so may have been quite obvious for centuries (John Muir and Henry David Thoreau didn’t fail to remind us), a growing body of scientific evidence now supports the claims that doing so is just so amazing for our physiological health.Read More