World Health Organization claimed that one-quarter of the global diseases caused by modifiable environmental factors. In other words, detaching ourselves from nature is the major factor for many diseases.
A research conducted by group of German scientists have found that more greener areas with more birds in urban setup help to increase the mental health (get the full publication here).
If you just search in google scholar, you can find many scientific papers published about how nature related activities such as hiking, bird watching, site seeing, etc. influence on people health and specific health benefits people get.
In UK some medical doctors prescribe to engage in bird watching to overcome some diseases. And also, there are many evidences to prove that bird watching has remarkable health benefits on our life even you are in an urban area.
Here, I am discussing ten of the important health benefits you get from bird watching and related activities which I’m also experiencing.
1 – Lower the Depression
It is found that one in 15 adults affected by depression in the globe, with more tendency towards women. Depression is somewhat common and serious mental illness and can be led to even make suicide if not treated well.
It begins with sadness, loss of interest on things once you enjoyed a lot, sleep deprivation, increased fatigue, feeling worthless or guilty, etc. If you are a person with one or more of these issues or symptoms, it’s time to start bird watching or any nature related activities.
Nature heals you a lot than you think. Once you go out, it will open up many windows to your mind to relax and enjoy where you did not experience before. Diversity among the different colour patterns and different behavioral patterns of birds will help you to get rid of depression related mindset gradually.
2 – Lower the Stress
Many of us have to deal with busy schedules due to carrier, studies, or whatever the responsibilities we bring on our shoulders. Mostly we struggle to complete our workload and get stressed quickly when the time is not enough to meet deadlines.
If you continue to face stress under these conditions, it may results many health problems and impact on you in an unexpected way. So, we have to deal with these kinds of stresses somehow.
In Japan it’s quite famous activity to be in the nature and walk in forests known as ‘shinrin-yoku’ or ‘forest bathing’. They have proven that it benefits your health both physically and mentally by reducing your stress levels and increases your overall wellbeing.
As a researcher in tropical forests, I have experienced the same where I did not catch any stress when I involve in bird watching and nature related activities.
3 – Lower the Anxiety
Anxiety is also one of the most common and widespread form of emotional disorders and can affect anybody. Because of that you can get increase heart rate, sleep deprivation, tiredness, increased breaths, focusing problems/ lack of concentrations.
Most of the research findings which revealed about the causes of anxiety found ‘stress’ and ‘brain chemistry’ as possible reasons. Most of these mind/ or brain related illnesses can easily cured by engage with nature related activities such as bird watching.
Because once you out in the nature your brain boosts due to cleaner air intake and being harmonic with the natural energy fields. Your mind begins to get stimulus from natural condition rather than artificial environments.
4 – Fresh Air and Free Vitamin D from Nature
If you are in an urban setup, most probably you inhale polluted air thus risking yourself to catch-up with respiratory illness. But if you engaged in bird watching or any other nature related activity you get a chance to inhale fresh air without any effort including other related health benefits.
It is a known fact that our brain consumes 20% of the oxygen in our blood stream, thus it’s very important to fuel up our brain with oxygen rich fresh air during morning time.
Just go out and listen and see birds for about 30 minutes every day in the morning. This is not only good for your health but also boost your energy to stay focus and fresh throughout the day.
And also, most of the productive bird watching hours within the morning half of the day where you get free mild sunlight to boost vitamin D synthesis of your skin.
Even when you are in urban setup, you can find an urban green spot with some birds and spend some time there. Those small changes will help you a lot to improve both physical and metal health that may have deteriorated over time after breathing toxic air for a long time in the urban environment.
5 – Enhance Cardiovascular Health
This is all about health related to your heart and blood vessels. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are one of the main causes of death, globally. Heart is the most important organ which pumps blood throughout the body to nourish all the internal organs of our body.
Because of that we need to pay extra attention on our cardiovascular health. If we engage in outdoor activates such as bird watching which has walking and climbing terrains with varying slopes, we naturally increase the blood circulation process by enhancing the muscular activities of legs and hands.
This will improve optimal blood flowing throughout the body which reduce the risk of getting CVD. As I explained earlier in this post, depression, stress and anxiety also increase the risk of developing CVD, thus bird watching directly helps you to avoid being a victim of a it.
6 – Great Starting Point to Lose Obesity
Center for Disease Control and Prevention in USA has recommended that you should walk at lease 10,000 steps per day (roughly equal to 8 km). Usually, it can be done within a one and half hours at an averaged walking speed by a person.
This recommended target can be easily achieved once you start bird watching in outdoors. Because you need to walk at least more than 5 kilometers for searching birds. Since the activity is enjoyable, walking that long will not feel drained.
You enjoy the birds in the nature. Thus, you can gain both self-satisfaction by watching birds as well as health benefits from walking distances.
When you are searching for rare birds and forest birds, you even need to climb mountains and go far distances deep in to forests where you get extra excises to maintain your health.
So, bird watching help you to reduce your excess body weight and obesity without engaging diet control plans and without intense and hard workouts.
7 – Develop Quick Reflexes
When you do bird watching, often you are looking for birds in the woods or in a forest. Thus, you need to be really alerted on any movement or stay focus on bird calls and sounds while you are walking.
Once you see a flight or hear a call, you have to stop and search for the direction, exact place or the position where the sound came from. Sometimes you need to follow the flight path of the bird ended.
When you do this activity frequently, your reflexes link with eye to hand coordination will develop rapidly. Because you need to ready your binocular and point it to the bird at your best speed.
And also, you will train your ears to direct your attention towards particular bird call. Therefore, reflexes linked with brain to ear will also be developed. All of these multiple reflexes in the field boost your brain functioning.
Thus, bird watching is more beneficial for your brain health. And also, you can become a person with quick reflexes which is a characteristic of an active and energetic person.
8 – Increase Mobility of Many Muscles in the Body, Especially Eye Muscles
Due to modern day working schedules, most of us stay nearly eight hours of sitting on a chair in front of a computer. This may cause muscles atrophy. Muscle’s atrophy means loss of muscles tissue due to lack of physical activity.
But if we can spend few hours per week on bird watching, we can activate several inactive muscles at our legs, arms and even in our eyes. Activities such as walking and holding the binoculars are exercises for legs and upper arm.
And, looking at different directions searching for birds is good for eye muscles and eye health. We may need to do bit more tough climbs and jumps to see rare and elusive birds (depending on the terrain and habitat you visit). This kind of adventurous bird watching can be equal to a moderate workout in a gym.
9 – Develop Meditative Mindset
Bird watching is a kind of meditation because we stay alert and focus on birds without any other thoughts. Thus, it resembles a simple meditation. Its s a quite well-known fact that the meditation helps you a lot in many ways. Including balancing your hormone levels to an optimal level to facilitate crucial physiological and metabolic activities in the body.
Most of the bird watchers I met and discuss with have accept that they are having good metal conditions over other people. They said they can tolerate many unpleasant situations when they work with other people in the society. Once you have a well-balanced mind you cannot be easily disturbed by others.
10 – Mood Fixing, Relaxing and Soothing Effect
Bird watching helps you to stay positive with your mood. If you are in a sad situation or stressful condition, get your binocular and go out looking for birds. You will not believe how fast birds can recover you and embrace you with their nature.
You can easily change any negative emotions or mood in to happy and positive state once you out in the nature. When we think about our day today busy lifestyles, spend some time for relaxation is very much important to maintain our physical and mental health.
Bird watching is one of the best hobbies you can do to fulfill your needed relaxation and spent your resting time more meaningfully. Once we start bird watching as an activity it soothes us due to the linkage between nature and us.
Even though humans have achieved success scientifically and technologically and move away from nature, we still genetically programmed to live with nature. That’s why we have to face many health complications as we grab the synthetic lifestyle. Therefore, I highly recommend bird watching as the best activity we can promote to re-connect with nature. Nature can heal us. So, lets start bird watching for a healthier future.