Open Voices Blog

Archives for posts tagged as "research"

What happens when you go for a walk?

06/26/17 | View Comments

You’re doing nothing when you walk, nothing but walking. But having nothing to do but walk makes it possible to recover the pure sensation of being, to rediscover the simple joy of existing, the joy that permeates the whole of childhood”. – F. Gros

The French philosopher Frederic Gros doesn’t specialize in the latest scientific advancements, but he recognizes there is a noticeable change in awareness when we walk. What if he is on to something? Researchers would argue that the brain and body is doing much more than simply walking. What is happening behind the scenes?

Our aging U.S. population needs accessible paths.

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Take a Mental Break, Eat Your Veggies, and Other Sage Advice

05/30/17 | View Comments


 


At Nature Sacred, we keep a close eye on the academic research being published around nature, health, and wellbeing. Via Research Shorts, each month we take what we see as some of the most interesting work being published and create a brief summary for our readers — enabling you to be in the know, even if you’re short on time.


 

A Brief Summary of the Research

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Gardens engage the mind, muscles, and hope

05/18/17 | View Comments

Planting a seed engages the mind. Working the soil engages the muscles in our hands. Watching new life grow engages our hope.

Gardening is perhaps one of the oldest and most common ways we interact with nature everyday, and there is increasing awareness among scientists of the potential health benefits derived from gardening activities. A small planter outside the window, a community garden plot, or a private green space all provide possible health benefits.

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Mind and Body in a Nearby Quiet Space

02/14/17 | View Comments

This post continues last week’s introduction to the health benefits of nature encounters. For greater detail and citations, please check out the new Nature Sacred Monograph “The Sacred and Nearby Nature in Cities”.

We are approaching nearly 40 years of research about the linkages between nature experiences, human disease prevention, and health promotion. As more people move into cities, nearby nature spaces that provide mental and physical health benefits are needed more than ever. Recent research reveals the effects urban noise and distractions have on our minds and bodies, and suggests ways in which nearby tranquil spaces alleviate stress.

Loud urban sounds can be harmful and irritating. A quiet green space might be your answer.

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Nature Sacred Research Collection Now Available

05/10/16 | View Comments

How do we build more contemplative spaces in cities?

The global population is increasingly urban. More and more people are moving to cities for opportunities and resources, each region facing different challenges. City budgets are tight and communities have many needs. In the U.S. the ‘baby boomer’ population is aging into retirement. Globally, demands to compete and succeed in professional and personal lives can lead to mental and physical health decline. Inequality can hinder access to healthy places to live and thrive.  Across these situations and demographics, a quiet moment in a nature space provides health benefits, sometimes extending into the long-term. Despite the known benefits, funding for green spaces in the midst of these needs can be challenging.

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Track your own nature experience

04/26/16 | View Comments

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
—Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Since the 1970s, health and nature research has integrated self-report questionnaires in understanding human experience. Analysis and design of these kinds of surveys has advanced tremendously, as well as methods to quantify changes in the human brain and body. But, much of what is known over the last few centuries has been based on conscious self-expression from philosophers and poets. Contemporary writers such as Rachel Carson, Jane Austen, and Jack Kerouac share personal accounts of a nature experience. In the past decade, powerful insight and meaning is gleaned from the breadth of experiences documented in Nature Sacred’s Bench Stories.

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The Fine Details: Surprising Outcomes of Nature and Health Research

09/29/15 | View Comments

The Nature Sacred Award Initiative supports several projects investigating how humans benefit from being outside. One of these research projects is combing through the fine details of this overarching research endeavor using eye movement technology. Kardan and colleagues (2015) are investigating what we notice, focus on, prefer and feel when we view nature images. These findings will help landscape designers and therapists understand how to design a nearby nature space. In this newly released study, participants viewed images of natural scenes and were asked to either memorize the image, search for an object, or rate their preference of the scene.

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A Pathway to Health: Nature Sacred Research Project Provides New Leads 

09/01/15 | View Comments

New research from a Nature Sacred partner, Frances Kuo at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, hints at a central pathway linking human health and time spent in nature.

Taking a walk in the park, going for a hike, or watching a tree sway in the wind feels intuitively relaxing. Health and nature research takes this a step further by asking how much, how often, and under what conditions humans benefit from spending time outside. Understanding what is happening outside of our awareness is where the scientific process steps in. In an era where more and more people are moving into cities, it is certainly worth our time to know how to build healthy urban spaces. And it is certainly worthwhile to assess the causes and correlations of nature-based health outcomes.

What conditions in our urban green spaces promote health? Exercising outside, breathing cleaner air, robust biodiversity? Does resting in a nearby park promote better sleep, increased social ties, or stronger immune systems? Kuo’s research review suggests nature’s ability to enhance immune functioning may be the major reason behind a host of health benefits.

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Stunning Design, Real Community Space

05/19/15 | View Comments

In our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This week, we present an interview with Dr. Adrian Loo of Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. 

Nature Sacred: In your role as Director of Research and Horticulture at Gardens by the Bay, what are your main tasks and projects?

Dr. Loo: Strategically, my team’s role is to inspire science within the gardens – amongst the staff and building up the capacity to use science to resolve horticultural problems.  We have developed a research facility that includes a lab, tissue culture facilities and research conservatories.   We are constantly building up our breeding capabilities and propagate interesting horticultural ornamentals such as orchids, begonias, bromeliads, gesnerids etc.  A big part of the research also goes into soil science and aspects of plant physiology such as light levels, temperature and how flowering is affected by these.   The department also does plant interpretation and we write catchy descriptions of plants that are interesting and at the same time botanically accurate in terms of their identity as species or cultivars and their ethnobotanical uses.

Nature Sacred: The Gardens by the Bay is in its first few years of operation. It covers a large area in Marina Bay and offers multiple diverse garden areas. Can you tell us about some of the most popular sites?

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Open Green Space Design Basics

05/12/15 | View Comments

In our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. In May, we examine the design elements that contribute to meaningful green spaces in our cities.

We can design our cities in ways that lower stress and better our health. Our urban green spaces can be tailored to local needs while also incorporating elements desired across the world. But, what general principles do we know? How can your city implement community-centered, open green spaces?

The Landscape and Urban Planning journal is a major publication platform for researchers and designers representing general trends and new ideas in cities across the globe. 

In a review of sixteen years of articles published in Landscape and Urban Planning, Matsuoka and Kaplan found six consistent Nature and Human-interaction needs apparent when we interact in outdoor urban environments (1). These themes existed across 23 countries with diverse cultures and political systems. Researchers contributing new data and ideas to this body of research include a Nature Sacred Award Team.

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    We are a private nonprofit that supports, informs, and inspires the creation of publicly accessible urban green spaces. We believe that every city resident needs nearby green space to provide opportunities for mindfulness, respite, and renewal. The Foundation has issued its final grants to build five Open Spaces Sacred Places and research the impacts on a variety of users with the hope that the powerful connection between nature, spirit and human wellbeing will be scientifically proven.

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