30 x 30 Blog

Here you will find posts from different members of the #DalOutside team, showcasing research and other thoughts about the benefits of time outdoors.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Hi! My name is Rachel and I’m an undergraduate student at Dalhousie majoring in Environmental Science and Economics. I have been fortunate enough to be involved in a few research projects at Dal investigating nature’s influence on student health and behaviour, and how nature is perceived amongst students.

The first project is one I took on in the fall, where I helped the lead researcher Jill McSweeney collect information regarding how students respond to nature in a work environment. We used plants, natural light, pine scent, and a picture of a sunset in an effort to create a natural work place. We measured things such as students’ mood, stress, and performance on memory tests. We also measured participant’s Nature Relatedness (NR), where a numerical value is assigned based on a person’s spiritual and physical connection with nature. What we found was interesting: the impact of nature was more positive for those with higher NR scores, and those with higher NR scores on average spent more time outdoors in natural environments (i.e. without human interference). Furthermore, the study discovered nature was important for different reasons amongst participants that ranged across five overarching (and interconnected) categories: spirituality, human-nature relationship, elicited values towards nature, memories, and restoration.

The second project I have recently started is investigating how nature exposure influences decision-making. This project is at its beginning stages, but I am looking forward to seeing whether nature exposure (or lack of) alters how people make decisions.

I think the 30x30 Challenge is a great way for students, staff, and faculty to get outside and enjoy the physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits that nature can provide! Based on my area of research, I do believe that spending more time outdoors can help improve people’s overall well being.