Findings Video Extra - Thriving in Nature, pt. 1 Michelle Segar, Ph.D., M.P.H. and Jason Duvall, Ph.D. discuss the mind/body benefits of spending time in natural environments.

A Special Section Guest-Edited by Michelle Segar

This special section of Findings offers a whole-body, whole-life approach to health as we age. So much of what we’re told about health and healthy aging is negative and/or punitive: Stop smoking, stop eating fat, exercise more. Drawing on new research across many fields, this “Guide to Thriving” asks whether we might better foster the healthy outcomes most of us seek by taking a different approach—one that emphasizes human functioning and well-being as the primary reason and motivation for self-care, rather than the desire to prevent or treat disease. These questions have never been more important, as nationally and globally we search for ways to create healthier populations and lower health care costs.

Equally important, new research suggests that factors like personal growth, self-acceptance, purpose, and positive emotions build both intra- and interpersonal resources and protect people against the health challenges that often accompany social inequality and aging. Psychologist Carol Ryff writes, “To the extent that individuals can cultivate skills for seeing and savoring the positive in themselves and their lives, much in the same way that people can learn to practice good nutrition, they would have tools at their disposal to draw on in times of distress or adversity.” In addition to continuing to advance policies to eradicate the racial and economic disparities that contribute to illness, as a society we should also strive to create new policies, environments, and opportunities that promote human functioning and positive emotions. — Michelle Segar

Findings Video Extra - Thriving in Nature, pt. 2 Michelle Segar, Ph.D., M.P.H. and Jason Duvall, Ph.D. continue their discussion of the mind/body benefits of spending time doing physical activity in natural environments.

Michelle Segar, PhD, MPH ’97, guest-edits this special section offering a whole-body, whole-mind approach to lifelong healthy living. A behavioral sustainability researcher, Segar is the associate director of the Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center and a 2013 fellow with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan. A frequent speaker on methods to rebrand health as well being, she is at work on a book about using these new ideas to improve behavioral sustainability in health-care and health-promotion contexts.

More information at Michelle Segar, Behavioral Sustainability Researcher.


Bethany E. Kok, et al. (2013) “How Positive Emotions Build Physical Health: Perceived Positive Social Connections Account for the Upward Spiral Between Positive Emotions and Vagal Tone.” Psychological Science (24) 1123–1132.

Carol D. Ryff. (2013) “Eudaimonic Well-Being and Health: Mapping Consequences of Self-Realization.” In A.S. Waterman, ed., The Best Within Us: Positive Psychology Perspectives on Eudaimonia. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 77–98.