Why nature is good for our health

Experiencing wildlife each day can improve our physical and mental well-being. 

Woman smells wild flowers © Matthew Roberts
Woman smells wild flowers © Matthew Roberts

New research undertaken by the University of Derby places nature connection at the heart of a happy and healthy life. 

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It shows that people who do something ‘wild’ every day for a month change their attitude to nature and report improvements in their physical and mental wellbeing. 

An impact study, by the University of Derby, of 30 Days Wild – the UK’s first ever month-long nature challenge, run by The Wildlife Trusts in June 2015 – reveals sustained increases in participants’ happiness, health, connection to nature and positive environmental behaviours, such as feeding the birds or growing flowers for pollinators like bees.

Dr Miles Richardson conducted the study. He said, “Two months after taking part in 30 Days Wild, the number of people reporting their health as excellent increased by over 30 per cent. 

“A connection with nature can bring sustained benefits to public health, reducing demands on our health services, while also improving pro-nature behaviours. Even in urban areas, nature can provide a simple solution to complex problems.”

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Man explores a local wild place. © Anne-Marie Randall

Throughout June 2015 more than 18,500 people took part in The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild challenge. This involved committing around 300,000 Random Acts of Wildness.

Participants found different ways to connect with, experience and take action for nature, including letting their lawns grow wild, dancing in the rain, creating homes for wildlife in their gardens and going star-gazing.

“By looking out for nature on a regular basis people became more likely to care about and protect it,” says The Wildlife Trusts’ Lucy McRobert. 

How to take part in 30 Days Wild

  • From 1 to 30 June 2016 The Wildlife Trusts will ask you to do something wild every day such as smelling a wildflower, listening to birdsong or exploring a local wild place. 
  • This year, the conservation organisation aims to inspire people to carry out one million Random Acts of Wildness, listing 101 fun and intriguing ideas online to get you started. 
  • Share your 30 Days Wild experiences on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using #30DaysWild
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Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine