In this article Cottagely's content team collaborated with Dr. Irfan Siddique to give expert advice on the benefits of digital detox.
Have you ever noticed that after spending time in the great outdoors, you often feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and overall healthier?
This isn't just your imagination - science supports the fact that spending time in nature has a positive effect on our health, and specifically, our immune system.
"Spending time in nature is associated with many psychological and physical benefits including improvement in mood, emotional well-being, and immunity, and prevention from certain diseases," Dr. Irfan Siddique shared.
Stress Reduction and Nature
One of the key ways nature improves our health is by reducing stress. Studies have shown that being outdoors in a natural environment can lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that our bodies produce in response to stress .
Dr. Irfan elaborates: "Stress can reduce the human’s ability to cope with the antigens causing infections and tumor cells. Fortunately, spending time in natural environments, both green and white spaces, can reduce stress and increase the functioning of immune system."
Physical Activity in Nature
Being in nature not only reduces stress, but it can also improve our physical health. It promotes physical activity, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system . Walking, jogging, or even just sitting outdoors can be beneficial.
"A regular physical activity can help human immunity against disease by 2 main mechanisms. First, it increases the functioning of immune cells present in the blood and second, it decreases the overall systemic inflammation in the body," Dr. Irfan commented.
It's not just about being active. Simply being in a green space, surrounded by plants and trees, can boost our immune system. One theory is that plants emit phytoncides, which are airborne chemicals that have been shown in research to increase the human body's levels of white blood cells .
Dr. Irfan: "Phytoncides are special airborne chemical compounds that plants usually produce to prevent them from insects. When inhaled from fresh air, phytoncides increase the number and functioning of human natural killer cells decreasing the risk of infections and tumors."
Leverage Local Green Spaces
With all of these benefits in mind, it makes sense to prioritize spending time in nature. It doesn't matter if you're in a sprawling forest, a local park, or your own backyard. As long as you're outside, your body will likely experience the benefits.
"Once a 55-year-old female came to my clinic with recurrent episodes of migraine, despite the medications. I advised her to take a break from her routine office work and visit a local park for a daily walk. Later on, his migraine was completely under control within a month," Dr. Irfan shared.
Remember, everyone is different. What works for one person might not work for another. But one thing is clear: spending time in nature is a simple, cost-effective way to improve your health and boost your immune system
Dr. Irfan Siddique
Dr. Irfan Siddique is a GMC-registered Medical Doctor with more than four years of post-graduation experience in child and adolescent healthcare. He has done his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the University of Health and Sciences, Lahore. Afterward, he was positioned at Children's Hospital, Faisalabad, where he ran Outpatient Department for four years. Currently, he is performing his duties as Medical Doctor at St. Barts Health NHS Trust, London.
1. Lee, J., Park, B.J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Kagawa, T., Miyazaki, Y. (2011). "Effect of Forest Bathing on Physiological and Psychological Responses in Young Japanese Male Subjects". Public Health.
2. Nieman, D.C., Wentz, L.M. (2019). "The compelling link between physical activity and the body's defense system". Journal of Sport and Health Science.
3. Li, Q. (2009). "Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function". Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine.