There's No Denying It: Walks in Nature can Increase Your Life Satisfaction (But that's Not just It)

Khryss | Published 2017-04-23 17:51
Feeling unsatisfied with life? Well I guess going to nature parks or hiking in a forest should be a habit then! A new study from Oregon State University showed that various mechanisms for engaging the natural environment significantly contribute to a person's overall subjective well-being. The researchers gathered 4418 respondents and had them answer an online survey conducted in Washington State's Puget Sound Region. The survey comprised 13 different metrics to show the relationship between overall life satisfaction and how people engage with the natural environment. "Eleven of the 13 had a positive correlation to overall life satisfaction. The links between ecological conditions, like drinking water and air quality, and objective well-being have been studied quite a bit, but the connection between various aspects of engaging the natural environment and overall subjective well-being have rarely been looked at,” lead author Kelly Biedenweg of Oregon State University's College of Agricultural Science said. “We wanted to identify the relative importance of diverse, nature-oriented experiences on a person’s overall life satisfaction assessment and statistically prove the relationship between happiness/life satisfaction and engaging with nature in many different ways.” The researchers quantified the link between well-being and six common mechanisms by which the natural environment has effects on well-being: Sense of Place, Outdoor Activities, Good Governance, Social and Cultural Activities, Psychological Wellbeing, and Resource Access. Among those, good governance is actually the most statistically significant. “Whether people feel like things are fair and they have a voice in process of making decisions and whether governance is transparent – those are the foundations of why people even can interact with nature," Biedenweg said. “The fact that trust in governance was a significant predictor of life satisfaction – in fact, the most statistically significant predictor of the ones we looked at – it was nice to see that come out of the research. The way we manage is the gateway to people being able to get livelihoods and satisfaction from nature.”
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