Missy Bilodeau

Athletic Trainer and Health Coach of CMCC INC.

Vice President of ALT

When I step into the conserved forest next to my home, I feel like I can take a deeper breath.  The forest green of the canopy overhead never ceases to amaze me and fill me with joy.  Being in the woods fills my lungs and my soul with a sense of wonder and joy that nothing else does. I love the part of me that surfaces in the woods.

Reading Chatter, by Ethan Kross, I was amazed at all the research completed on how nature refills us and revives us. Many studies have revealed that exposure to the natural world improves our health overall.  Seeing towering trees and rumbling rivers, both in person, or as pictures and videos, decreases our mental chatter, improves our performance and recovery, and leads to better decision making overall.

A 2015 high resolution satellite imagery study of the Canadian city of Toronto found that having just ten more trees on a city block was associated with improvements in people’s health comparable to an increase in the annual income of $10,000 or being seven years younger.

Data collected from 10,000 individuals in England over 18 years found that people reported experiencing lower levels of distress and higher well-being when living in urban areas with more green space. 

Another study of 900,000 children found that children who grew up with the least exposure to green spaces had up to 15 to 55 percent higher risk of developing psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety as adults.

Secondhand exposure to the natural world through photos and videos also restores attentional resources.  Bringing nature into your home provides benefits as well. Listening to natural sounds such as rainfall and crickets chirping will also improve performance on attentional tasks.

Finally, a study involving the entire population of England below the age of retirement, 41 million people, revealed that exposure to green spaces buffered people against several of the harmful effects of poverty on health.  To put it another way, with a slight exaggeration green space seem to function like a great therapist, anti-aging elixir, and immune-system booster all in one. 

I am so thankful for the like-minded people from our region who over 30 years ago prioritized conserving green spaces for us to enjoy; the founders of ALT.  Their vision and effort pioneered the way for the work we continue to do, preserving the lands and waters where we can go to catch our breath, widen our hearts and just be with the trees.