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Not Enough Nature is a Problem for City Dwellers

By Jenny Lin

While living in a bustling vibrant city has many advantages, one glaring disadvantage is the disconnect from nature. Studies have shown that exposure to nature has a myriad of benefits for both our physiological and psychological health. There are certain bacteria found only in non-urban surroundings that help to reduce allergies and respiratory issues. A lack of exposure to a natural environment can cause city dwellers to be more prone to these problems. 


For most people living in modern urban areas, life usually involves more time spent indoors and on screens, away from nature. Throughout our history, we have never been so disconnected from nature and we’re seeing a corresponding rise in some mental health disorders. Many of the estimated 450 million people worldwide that are dealing with mental/neurological disorders live in cities. Experts agree that exposure to nature can reduce risk factors for mental illnesses, enhance memory and attention, and improve people’s ability to manage tasks.


A team led by Stanford University and the University of Washington is hoping to more easily bring nature and its mental health benefits to residents of urban areas. Through the Stanford Natural Capital Project, they plan to make it easier for city planners to incorporate these mental health considerations when making decisions about where a park should go, how big it should be, and what kind of elements (trees, grass or a river) would best meet the needs of the surrounding community.

Now that you know just how much nature can benefit city dwellers, if you are one, be sure to go and enjoy some time in your local park or get out of the city to the woods or countryside this Earth Day!

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