For many people, nature is superfluous. They spend much of their lives in the climate-controlled comfort of their homes, surrounded by computers and other electronic machines, only rarely venturing out into wilderness. Even people who live in suburbs often live this way, with little direct exposure to the natural world. And, as it turns out, this is unhealthy.
Studies show that frequent and prolonged exposure to nature is a key component of both a healthy body and a healthy mind. A walk in the nearest park or a day watching birds in one’s own yard can have notable beneficial effects on the way one sees the world.
Exposure to nature can result in an overall more balanced and well-rounded view on the world and one’s role in it. This is not mere conjecture: it has been proven repeatedly that those exposed to the natural world are more likely to recover quickly from depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. In fact, many doctors and psychologists recommend spending more time outdoors to help recover from these conditions.
Unfortunately, many are unwilling to see it that way. They feel as though all of their needs are met by the technology in their own homes. Is it a coincidence that rates of anxiety among young adults—the demographic for which this is particularly true—are at an all-time high?
In Davidson, we are fortunate to have forested bicycle trails—the greenways—that allow citizens to take long walks and bike rides in a “green” surrounding. Many Davidson homeowners have also converted their yards into Backyard Wildlife Habitats, so that all they need to do is step out their door to experience the wonders of nature.
What impact does time in nature have on the body? A 2018 study conducted by the University of East Anglia in England shows that exposure to greenspace reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.
Davidson is a town built to accommodate nature-lovers. The greenways, the gardens, the town green, the sidewalks—all of these are designed for people who spend time walking about outside their homes. For their sake, the sake of their friends and family, and the sake of the natural environment of Davidson, I hope we continue to design spaces and experiences that keep us connecting with nature.