Women now spend a lot of their time indoors, putting them at risk for a lesser known health threat called “nature-deficit disorder,” according to a survey conducted online in December 2012 by Harris Interactive among 2,541 U,S, adults, among which 1,417 are U.S. women ages 18 and older, on behalf of Women’s Health magazine and The Nature Conservancy.
Eighty-eight percent of women are aware that nature can have a huge positive impact on their mental and physical health and 86% of women who feel too stressed said their mood improves when spending time outdoors, according to the WH/NC “Health Benefits of Nature” survey. Medical studies have shown that blood pressure, resting heart rate and levels of cortisol were significantly lower after a 15 minute walk in nature compared with a 15 minute walk indoors. The issue is most women aren’t utilizing Mother Nature to aid in their mental and physical health as much as they should.
When asked what they would do if they had a free day to do whatever they’d like, those women who felt too stressed were more likely than non-frazzled women to want to spend a free day curled up on the couch (55% vs. 44%). The picture gets worse when those stressed women are asked what they do when they typically try to relax:
• More than half (54%) watch TV.
• Forty-four percent eat/snack.
• Thirty-one percent have a glass of wine.
• Just 26% head outside and go for a walk in the park
“Intuitively we all know that spending time in nature reduces stress and puts us in a better mood, but now science has backed that up,” says Women’s Health Editor-in-Chief Michele Promaulayko. “However our survey found that women still aren’t reaping the all benefits, so we’ve mapped out an easy lifestyle plan that includes getting a healthy dose of exercise, sleep and ‘Vitamin N.’”
While it is good news that women are aware of the many health benefits of nature, it is also essential to look at the factors keeping them indoors. The survey found that more than half of women (53%) indicate that “wacky” weather—weather that is too hot, too cold—making it the #1 obstacle that prevents them from getting outside, more so than even women’s busy schedules (44%).
“In a world that is rapidly changing, where people are becoming more disconnected from each other and their habitat, it is more important than ever that women find ways to enjoy the outdoors,” says Stephanie Wear, Director of Coral Reef Conservation at The Nature Conservancy. “Getting outside isn’t just about women’s health; it’s also about the health of our planet. How can we expect people to care for the planet if they feel no connection to it?”
Luckily, getting outside is easier than one might think (and is usually free), even for urbanites. To motivate readers and members, Women’s Health and The Nature Conservancy will spend 30 days tweeting about getting outside: where to go, what to do and what to look for—be on the lookout for the partnership’s official hashtag: #getoutside.
Some additional highlights of survey data include:
• Nearly three quarters of U.S. women (73%) wish they could spend more time outside than they do.
• Excuses for not going outside more: 53% are intimidated by too hot or too cold weather, 44% are too busy and 22% like hanging out at home.
• Only 22% of women typically spend time outdoors in nature by running/exercising.
To help address some of the barriers to getting outdoors, Women’s Health magazine’s April 2013 issue, which features a story on the survey and women’s lack of “Vitamin N,” includes over 45 ways to boost the time people spend outside to yield large mind-body benefits such as a fitter physique, healthier heart, lower stress level happier mood, increased productivity and more.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Women’s Health and The Nature Conservancy from December 3-5, 2012 among 2,531 adults ages 18 and older, among which 1,417 are women ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Rachel Winters at The Nature Conservancy or Lindsey Benoit at Women’s Health.
About Women’s Health
Women’s Health is the must-have companion for today’s modern woman. From beauty to style to fitness, Women’s Health propels our 15 million consumers into action, providing the motivation and the inspiration for them to make instant, positive changes in their lives. Launched in October 2005 and published 10 times a year by Rodale Inc., Women’s Health has quickly grown into a multimedia brand that includes branded books, mobile applications, and renowned events. With 19 international editions that cover 28 countries to reach more than 10 million readers every month, Women’s Health is the fastest-growing international women’s magazine in the world today. The magazine has received numerous industry accolades including the ASME for General Excellence in 2011 and AdWeek’s 2012 Hotlist Reader’s Choice. For more up-to-the-minute information, visit www.womenshealthmag.com and get instant updates via Twitter (@WomensHealthMag) and Facebook (Women’s Health Magazine).
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.