Nature has an empowering and health-promoting effect on people. According to the biophilia theory (Wilson 1984), we have an internal tendency to connect with nature and this nature connection helps us recover from psychophysiological stress. Today, people spend more and more time indoors. It’s also not always possible to get into nature and enjoy the well-being effects of nature. Especially for the elderly, people with limited mobility and those suffering from illnesses, getting into nature can be difficult. Therefore, it would be important that the well-being effects of nature could also be experienced indoors. Digitizing natural environments could offer health effects for different population groups and without barriers. The possible calming effects of digital nature could also be useful in exciting group situations, in kindergartens, schools, seminars, meetings and public places. The welfare effects of nature have mostly been demonstrated based on survey information, which is based on subjective experience and is therefore also easy to question. Less information is available on physiological effects. There are some previous studies measuring the health effects of digital nature, but the results are diverse and more confirmation is needed.
To find out how the well-being effects of the natural environment of Southern Savonia can be replicated in other than natural environments (production of elements of nature, such as visuals and sound).
To verify the health effects of scalable (digi)nature environments using heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is a well-known psychophysiological measure and it reflects the balancing of the parasympathetic (when resting) and sympathetic (when stressing) nervous system as a result of environmental conditions and psychological factors. A high HRV indicates higher parasympathetic nervous system activity and better health. Low HRV predicts morbidity and mortality.
Work package 1: A literature search will be conducted and a publication will be prepared, in which information on the various elements of nature’s well-being effects is gathered.
Work package 2: Identifying nature well-being innovations of Southern Savonia. Let’s place the nature-related innovations of Southern Savonia’s nature, tourism and technology companies in the taxonomy of nature’s well-being effects and communicate the results to these companies.
Work package 3: Verification of the well-being effects of digital nature. Conducting pilot studies on the well-being effects of digital nature environments by comparing them to reference environments.
Happening in the project:
We are investigating the well-being effects of nature soundscape and nature virtual reality. The exposure of 10 min diginature is compared to reference environment while heart rate variability is measured, and questionnaires are filled out. You can read more about the measurements of the virtual nature on Yle’s website (in Finnish): https://yle.fi/a/74-20030595