When planning your new log shed or annex for Granny, you’re probably not thinking about how it might affect your health, but perhaps you should be. Research has shown that the use of wood can have enumerable positive effects on both your physical and mental health.
Ever heard of biophilia? You might be thinking that that sounds like something your doctor might prescribe a cream for but it’s actually quite an amazing thing where we, as humans, have an innate instinct to connect with nature. Just like our ancestors, we feel our most content when surrounded by trees, and consequently, wood. We did some research of our own and narrowed the results down to 5 surprising ways in which wood can benefit your health.
Now, stress is something that affects us all, right? So wouldn’t we want to reduce stress through/in our surroundings? I think we can all agree the answer to both of those questions would be a definitive YES. Well, good news, here’s how you can. Stress is one of the most well-researched areas of mental health so we have it on good authority that natural environments and wood particularly can help reduce stress. Studies have shown that, when spending time in spaces designed with wood, peoples heart rates and cortisol levels dropped, implying a stress-reducing effect.
This is where things get a bit science-y. Research in Japan found that people exposed to the ‘forest environment’ have enhanced human natural killer cell activity. If you’re anything like me, you read ‘natural killer’ there and thought ‘I don’t want that!’ but as it turns out, we really do. Basically this means that your body is much better at fighting the nasty bugs that none of us want and the activation of these cells indicates a stronger immune system. Simply being around wood, whether that be in the forest or a wood framed office, we’re actively helping our immune system.
Let’s talk air. Wood products within a room have been shown to improve air quality and they do this by moderating the temperature. That’s because wood does this really cool thing where it absorbs and releases moisture in order to maintain a symmetry with the surrounding air. This really comes into play in spaces like offices, where general focus and productivity reduces drastically when a) the air quality is bad and b) when it’s too hot or too cold. This leads us nicely onto reason number 4.
Whether you’re an artist or an accountant, we all crave creativity. That doesn’t necessarily mean being the next Michelangelo, it might simply mean finding new ways to complete everyday tasks. Over the past ten years or so, researchers have concluded that wood grain as a texture positively influences creativity. On the other hand, synthetic textures such as artificial wood have been found to in fact cause stress and agitation.
We’ve talked about how wood makes us feel better in ourselves but here’s a little bit more about why. Further studies have found that having natural wood surfaces can boost your overall mood. The smell and touch of the wood are generally regarded as pleasant and natural, and smooth wooden surfaces are considered more agreeable than coated and artificial ones.This makes wood a certified mood booster!
So, the results are in: people live better, work better and ARE better when they are living and working in wood spaces. Oak framed buildings have all of these benefits and will last for hundreds of years so you could argue are also a very healthy investment.