More than just improving body appreciation, exposure to nature might encourage you to be more active

By Ea Francisco

Being exposed to nature helps promote a positive body image, says studies.

According to a study by Body Image, being around natural environments improves well-being and overall body appreciation. The researchers conducted five studies, three of which had students see photographs of natural and built environments while two of the studies had students actually spending time outdoors.

The lead author of the study, Viren Swami, explained that there are several reasons behind the results.

“It might be that it distances people, physically and mentally, from appearance-focused situations that are one of the causes of negative body image,” he says. “It is also possible that exposure to environments with depth and complexity restricts negative appearance-related thoughts”.

“More specifically, natural environments effortlessly hold your attention—a process known as ‘soft fascination.’ This is often accompanied by feelings of pleasure such as when you are drawn to the sight of a setting sun.”

It might be that it distances people, physically and mentally, from appearance-focused situations that are one of the causes of negative body image

Swami also points out that access to nature makes people engage in activities that focus on the functions of their body rather than its appearance.

Similar research cited in the study also said that being in nature lets you distance yourself from the “societal contexts that are heavily appearance-focused” which makes you reassess and better appreciate your body appearance. This change in your attitude can then improve self-esteem and make you feel overall empowered.

It’s worth noting that having people with a positive body image engaged in activities would further enhance this positivity, according to a related study. These activities could range from being more concerned for self-care to having a more prosocial behavior.