How Being Outdoors Can Improve Your Life If you live in a big city, you may have noticed new buildings popping up — a high-rise here, a skyscraper there. The concrete jungles that we've built over the past century have allowed millions of us to live in close proximity, and modern economies to flourish. But what have we given up by moving away from the forest environments in which humans first evolved? This week, we revisit our 2018 conversation about the healing power of nature with psychologist Ming Kuo.
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You 2.0: Our Better Nature

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You 2.0: Our Better Nature

You 2.0: Our Better Nature

You 2.0: Our Better Nature

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  • Transcript

Researchers say there's growing evidence that nature has a powerful effect on us, improving both our physical and psychological health. Angela Hsieh hide caption

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Angela Hsieh

Researchers say there's growing evidence that nature has a powerful effect on us, improving both our physical and psychological health.

Angela Hsieh

If you live in a big city, you may have noticed new buildings popping up — a high-rise here, a skyscraper there. The concrete jungles that we've built over the past century have allowed millions of us to live in close proximity, and modern economies to flourish.

But what have we given up by moving away from the forest environments in which humans first evolved?

For more than 30 years, psychologist Ming Kuo has studied the effects of nature on humans. She came to this field of research not from an interest in greenery, but from a fascination with crowding and noise — the negative impacts of urban environments.

"I was interested in the dark side of the environment," she says. "I was interested in how violent or dangerous or bad urban environments had detrimental effects on people."

Kuo says she eventually became intrigued by the positive effects of nature after she started to dig into the data.

"It's only when you look at the patterns of what people are like with more and less access to nature that you start to see this pattern," she says.

This week on our You 2.0 summer series: why trees, grass, gardens and flowers don't just brighten our lives they help us become our better selves.

More Reading:

Coping with Poverty - Impacts of Environment and Attention in the Inner City

Environment and Crime in the Inner City - Does Vegetation Reduce Crime?

Urban street tree density and antidepressant prescription rates—A cross-sectional study in London, UK

Hidden Brain is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced by Jennifer Schmidt, Rhaina Cohen, Parth Shah, Thomas Lu, and Laura Kwerel. Our supervising producer is Tara Boyle. You can also follow us on Twitter @hiddenbrain.