You May Have Inherited Your Love of Nature from Your Parents, Science Says

A new study published in the journal PLOS Biology explained there might be a genetic component to our fondness for the great outdoors.

Three generation family hiking in rainforest in rain, Japan
Photo: Ippei Naoi / Getty

Do you love the great outdoors? That reverence very well may run in your family. New research published in the journal PLOS Biology found that genetics play a role in how much and how often people enjoy adventuring outside, something that starts at a young age.

To gather their findings, the researchers polled 1,153 pairs of twins from the TwinsUK registry about their penchant for green spaces; the scientists asked them to rate their familiarity with nature and their eagerness to get outdoors. Plus, they asked about how often they frequent spaces like public parks and private gardens. They found that identical twins (who share nearly the exact same DNA) expressed similar opinions about their love for nature. As a result, the team found that genetic variations influenced 46 percent of the participants' fondness for the outdoors.

The researchers did explain that the influence of genetics on love of nature decreased with age; as people grow older, their environments often change. However, the perks of being outdoors are still plentiful. "Spending time in nature links to better health and wellbeing," said Dr. Chia-chen Chang, study co-author from the National University of Singapore, in a statement. "A twin study shows that a person's desire to be in nature and how often they experience it are influenced by both genes and personal experiences."

"This study provides the first evidence for a genetic component to both our predispositions towards nature and our tendency to visit natural spaces," added Dr. Chang. "Nature-oriented people may actively seek out nature even if it means traveling from their home, but diverse urban planning is needed to provide access to natural spaces—and the benefits they offer—for all."

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