A Natural Connection: Exploring Positive Outcomes in Health & Healing through Nature
This September, Texan by Nature collaborated with Houston Methodist to assemble a group of world renowned researchers, physicians, and policymakers to discuss cutting edge knowledge on the relationship between health and nature. The resulting symposium, A Natural Connection: Exploring Positive Outcomes in Health and Healing Through Nature, brought together perspectives from multiple disciplines to spark dialogue that will inform future research and amplify Texan by Nature’s message of how important nature is to our well-being.
A first-of-its-kind event, this symposium inspired a palpable sense of synergy between the healthcare sector, conservation groups, the scientific community, and policymakers that is sure to deliver meaningful positive outcomes for both Texans and our natural world. As Texan by Nature founder Laura Bush stated in her opening remarks, “We’ve only just begun to understand the depth of the connection between health and nature through scientific research, but imagine the impact future findings could have – from how we treat illnesses to how we plan our cities, and even how we live and work each day.”
“This group has the potential to take important steps forward in the integration of insights from medicine, environmental psychology, public health, and other disciplines — to forward the understanding of the critical importance and multivariate ways in which the environment influences our psychological [and physiological] health”
– Dr. Gregory Bratman, Stanford University School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences
Nature Isn’t Just Nice – It’s Essential
“Children today spend half as much time outdoors as children did 20 years ago; yet they spend nearly 8 hours per day using entertainment media,” reported Mrs. Bush during the symposium.
Children and adults are spending less time in nature in general than ever before, and the negative health consequences are clear, as rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses continue to increase in our society. These high levels of health problems have prompted many researchers and policymakers to uncover the causes. “Nature Deficit Disorder,” a phrase coined by Children & Nature Network’s chairman and co-founder Richard Louv, is one of the culprits.
According to The American Public Health Association, “People of all ages and abilities enjoy higher levels of health and wellbeing when they have nature nearby in parks, gardens, greenways, naturalized schoolyards and playgrounds, and natural landscaping around homes and workplaces. Access to nature has been related to lower levels of mortality and illness, higher levels of outdoor physical activity, restoration from stress, a greater sense of wellbeing, and greater social capital.”
Yet while countless benefits of exposure to nature seem clear, what each speaker emphasized was that, in order to truly value nature’s positive effects, more research must be done on the mechanisms that actually produce these benefits. A better understanding of these mechanisms can lead to a better use of nature for health and healing applications.
“The conservation community has long understood the links between nature, outdoor recreation, and personal fitness; the recent symposium dramatically broadened our understanding of the links between nature and health to include cognition and intellectual functioning, memory, stress management, and many more links that we are only beginning to explore. Understanding these links is important for improving our health.”
– Lynn Scarlett, Managing Director at The Nature Conservancy
Everyone Can Get Involved in Conservation and Look After Their Health
We know that nature is good for us, so it’s critical that we take care of it. We don’t have to travel to a pristine forest at the far reaches of the earth to feel the benefits. We can experience and protect nature in our own backyard – even a windowsill. Our conservation efforts are collectively beneficial to our health, no matter how big or small. You can contribute to conservation and welcome nature into your life by joining Texan by Nature’s Monarch Wrangler program.
“This symposium reminded me again of the choices we can make every day to conserve our natural resources and how vital nature is to our overall health.”
-Reverend Charles Millikan
Watch the On-Demand Webinar to Learn from the Experts
We’ve made the entire symposium available to watch on demand. Review our program featuring experts from Stanford, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Washington, Darnall Army Medical Center, the University of Michigan, Houston Methodist, the Nature Conservancy, and Texan by Nature.