How spending more time in nature can benefit your health

As part of MPR's Water Month initiative, all month long we've said that getting outside is good for you.

Monday's show explains why, and what nature actually does to our bodies.

Khalid Musse, Abubakar Sherif and Bukhari Booker play capture the flag.
Khalid Musse (left) and Abubakar Sherif (center) grab Bukhari Booker during a game of capture the flag at Sibley State Park on Friday, June 14, 2019.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

Some research says that getting outside does more than make you feel good; it actually improves your overall health.

Two medical experts joined guest host Dan Kraker to spell out what the research says.

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Cathy Jordan is a research director for the Minneapolis-based nonprofit Children and Nature Network. She's a pediatric neuropsychologist by training, and also a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota.

Jordan became interested in how nature affects children by seeing how her own children's overall health improved after spending quality time outdoors.

Dr. Beth Peter, originally from Pelican Rapids, Minn., is a physician at Lakewood Family Medicine in Holland, Mich. Peter prescribes nature to some of her patients under a national initiative called Park Rx America, which works with health care professionals to help them connect patients to the outdoors.

Craig Helmstetter, director of the APM Research Lab, also joined the show to explain a new survey that asked how often Americans spend free time in nature. The survey results can be found here.


Cathy Jordan, research director for the Minneapolis-based nonprofit Children and Nature Network

Dr. Beth Peter, physician at Lakewood Family Medicine in Holland, Michigan

Craig Helmstetter, director of APM Research Lab

For more on health benefits of spending time in nature, click play on the audio player above.

This reporting is part of The Water Main, our initiative that aims to bring people together, move conversations forward and create meaningful connections that help sustain clean, abundant water for all.