Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 138 - Jared Hanley - A Dose of Nature

Adventure racing is is quite a niche sport to begin with, so it’s not like there’s a lot of money in it, and I want to clarify it’s different than like obstacle course racing, which a lot of people often call like adventure racing. 
Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 138 - Jared Hanley - A Dose of Nature

[00:00:00] Adventure racing is is quite a niche sport to begin with, so it’s not like there’s a lot of money in it, and I want to clarify it’s different than like obstacle course racing, which a lot of people often call like adventure racing. The kind of adventure racing I did was really like a wilderness triathlon, so it’s generally long-distance, off-road, off-trail, sometimes courses where you’re you’re trekking, your mountain biking, kayaking, mountaineering, et cetera. Sometimes over days, you know, I’ve done races that are 10 days long, nonstop.

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Jesse: [00:01:20] I’m Jesse Funk. My guest today has two degrees from Yale, both in cognitive science and econometrics. He is an adventure racer. While I would consider a former pro, but we can we can get more into that and maybe why he would or wouldn’t consider himself a pro. He’s a published author. He has a background in data science and currently is the CEO of Nature Quant. Welcome to the show, Jared Hanley.

Jared: [00:01:43] Thanks for having me, Jesse.

Jesse: [00:01:45] So, Jared, we’re going to we’re going to do a deep dive on data in Nature Quant. But I want to come back to the thing I just mentioned your background in adventure racing and you mentioned, you know, before we got going, you were kind of a pro asterisk next to it. So so tell me, explain to our listener like why, what that means and why you’re kind of like hedging your bets on whether you were a pro or not.

Jared: [00:02:17] Yeah. So adventure racing is is quite a niche sport to begin with. So it’s not like there’s a lot of money in it. And I want to clarify it’s different than like obstacle course racing, which a lot of people often call like adventure racing. The kind of adventure racing I did was really like a wilderness triathlon, so it’s generally long-distance, off-road, off-trail, sometimes courses where you’re you’re trekking, your mountain biking, kayaking, mountaineering, et cetera.

Sometimes over days, you know, I’ve done races that are 10 days long nonstop, but it’s a very niche sport. And so even if you are sponsored and you have some, you know, basically brands supporting your team, paying your race, travel entry fees, you’re not making any money. So I don’t know if that counts is professional, really. It’s just a way to support my my passion for the sport.

Jesse: [00:03:10] Yeah, it’s it seems like there’s so many, especially in endurance, like there’s so many like niche types of endurance races, you know, adventure racing, obviously obstacle course, racing, ultras variations there, just there’s so many different things people can be doing that. We each have our own thing, but then at the same time, because they are so niche, then you don’t have the big audience to, like, bring money in and, you know, make it more of a paid professional kind of situation.

Jared: [00:03:51] Yeah, you definitely can’t quit your day job that way.

Jesse: [00:03:56] I mean, so what are you doing? You know, when you were doing these, you know, Nature Quant’s still relatively new. So I’m guessing this is this is before Nature Quant started. I think maybe around that time you met Chris. So for you, the listener, a little back story. Episode 130 I interviewed Dr. Chris Minson, who is a professor at University of Oregon. We talked about a lot of really great stuff. So you check out that episode afterwards. But he referred Jared. They worked together at Nature Quant. So what’s the story about meeting Chris and kind of the genesis of how this company kind of got going?

Jared: [00:04:40] Yeah, it’s kind of funny. I knew Chris Minson or Doctor Minson for a while because we live in the same town. We’re both know avid mountain bikers and backcountry skiers, and we happen to be on a same backcountry ski tour where you basically ski from hut to hut. And each hut is kind of situated next to a lot of great backcountry skiing lines. Our third co-founder, guy named Chris Bailey, who’s our CTO, was on that trip as well, and we were all out there, obviously just having a blast unplugged from screens, talking about how good we feel physically and mentally, just being in the wilderness and thinking about how we can bring this to the masses.

Jared: [00:05:21] You know me with my background in data science, Dr. Minson, who is a kind of a world leader in in human physiology and how environments impact physiology. And then Chris Bailey, who was our CTO, who is a data wizard and, you know, can build anything basically that has to do with software. We’re kind of a great combination to launch this company. So that’s oddly kind of how how the thing was formed. Really, it stemmed from our shared passion for the outdoors and our desire to bring it to the masses and thinking technology was the way to do that.

Jesse: [00:05:55] Well, you know, you and I were talking about this before we got going a little bit that your current ironic predicament of advocating people to be outsourced outside and then being stuck inside because things are going so well for you guys. So I have to give a little bit of a hard time and say, you know, are we going about this backwards because we’re you try to use technology to tell people to stop using technology. So like, are we are we sending a consistent message or is it mixed messages here?

Jared: [00:06:24] Oh no. The irony is very thick. I recognize that you know, one thing I’ll say about our app particularly, which is just one of our products, it’s called Nature Dose is we intentionally built it not to be part of what’s called the attention economy. So it’s not the kind of app that wants to suck you in and have you look at it for hours on end? It really is designed to operate silently in the background and monitor your time exposed to nature. Kind of like a 10000 step count, but not be something that’s pinging you constantly or that you’re obsessing over.

Jared: [00:06:58] In fact, we don’t even deliver data in real-time on purpose because we don’t want you outside looking at our app and saying, OK, how much has my nature credits, my nature dose grown? We kind of want you to just experience nature, unplug, get off screens, and then at the end of the week, you know, we’ve monitor it. We can tell you, have you met your goal or not? Should you try and get outside more, et cetera? And and beyond that, we feel like there’s this. It’s important to quantify things a just for research, but I think also to motivate behavior. There’s this notion called the Hawthorne effect, which is if you know that something’s being tracked, you will optimize it and you’ll change your behaviors around that.

Jared: [00:07:36] So even if you never open our app, you just know in the back of your mind, Hey, I’m actually thinking about my time outside, my time in nature, and it’s being tracked. Hopefully, that’s enough to motivate you to get outside a little more often. So we’re doing our best to, you know, kind of navigate that irony that we’re using technology to get people really off screens and unplugged. But it’s still there, obviously. You know, we’ve built an app to tell you to stop using apps and go outside.

Jesse: [00:08:07] So I mean, if you’re not, you know, if you’re not using what I’ll refer to as like the evils of modern technology, all of the tricks and tricks of the trade that we know about the like, grab people’s attention and keep them hooked. And you know, we’re talking about dopamine before we got going, like all the little dopamine things in our brains that make us keep wanting to come back for more like it’s a slot machine if you’re not using that to keep users engaged. How do you keep them engaged or do you take a more laissez-faire approach where we go, I don’t care whether they’re engaged, like as long as we get them outside.

Jared: [00:08:42] Well, I think we look at it a little differently. I think our concept is new, although it’s very, very old in all supinate and that I think you could go back thousands of years and people have, you know, you see all these references about like the magic eras of the mountain or how parks are the lungs of a city. I think people have always known that it’s it’s good for you to go outside and go for a walk, right? It’s good for you to go sit under a tree. I mean, that’s nothing new, but we’ve kind of lost that in the last 30, 30, 50 years. As technology has grown, urbanization has grown. We’re all inside now in front of screens 12 to 15 hours a day.

Jared: [00:09:22] So we’ve kind of, I think, forgotten that one important part of our health is to expose our bodies to these various environments, which includes being outside. And so it’s kind of a reminder that that’s important. And so. We are using technology to do that, because simply, that’s what people are interfacing with. I mean, everyone’s looking at their phone all the time, and it’s very hard to get people to pay attention to anything. And so to educate them around this concept, we felt like you got to go through the phone for better or worse. If you got a better idea, we’re all ears, but we felt like that. That’s how we can have the most impact.

Jesse: [00:09:56] If I, oh yeah, I wish I had a better ID and I could be the force, but I don’t know that I do. I don’t know that I’ve got the skills to come on and contribute anything with you guys, unfortunately. No, it just it’s just, you know, the whole situation is just amusing to me where we are, so. It is so simple on the face of it, right, where you’re like, go outside and enjoy nature like the objective isn’t hard. I mean, you know, correct me if I’m wrong.

Jesse: [00:10:25] The objective isn’t hard, but changing behavior is difficult because, you know, like the forces that shape our behavior are in part personal, you know, like I can, I can personally choose not to engage with social media. However, if I want to engage with certain companies, maybe they only engage on social media. So that kind of forces me into that avenue if I’m interested in those companies or, you know, with the pandemic. Everybody being told to work at home and now we’re on Zoom. Now we can’t have face to face meetings, and obviously that’s kind of as things are transitioning a little bit right now, that’s becoming less of an issue, but there are certain things outside of our control that force us into these uses of technology, whether we like it or not. Yet we also know all that time is not necessarily the best time for us.

Jared: [00:11:25] Yeah, yeah, that’s absolutely right. And I would say there’s one thing that we’re observing further, there is just a growing body of scientific literature demonstrating these connections between positive mental and physical outcomes and time outside. It’s supposed to nature and a growing lack of use of those elements as it as a health tool, really. You know, I mean, we have data now and a lot of users and people just aren’t getting outside.

Ninety eight, ninety nine percent of their lives are indoors, whereas we see I mean, there’s dozens of papers coming out every quarter about, Oh, go sit in a park and your stress hormones go down, go sit in the park and your blood pressure goes down. Like all of these things are becoming more and more validated from a scientific standpoint, but becoming less and less used from a public behavior standpoint. And so there’s this growing gap that we recognized, and we wanted to counter that or correct that in some way. So that’s really our mission.

Jesse: [00:12:22] So as I understand it, I know you’re going to correct me, which is kind of the point, you’re trying to put numbers to our time spent outside, like I said. Like I said before, you know, the goal is simple of go outside, but what does that mean? And sometimes I think, you know.

It’s easier for people to latch on to something when it’s a number, right? You know, we’ve seen, although I’ve had different guests say different things, there’s, you know, like trackers now to say, Oh, you had this kind of sleep and you need you recovered this much and it’s this No, we want to quantify everything. Is that simply the reality of, like you said, the technology we use, we’re so used to? What is the data say? How does it tell instead of being that this intuitive sense of I feel, well, it’s you know, what is my phone or what is my app telling me about my exposure? Is it coming from that standpoint that you’re like, we have to put a number on it?

Jared: [00:13:22] Yes, we definitely need to put a number on it, unfortunately, because we are studying it. And in fact, I mean, you mentioned all those other things like sleep quality, you know, readiness state that all these other devices are delivering. We are going to correlate those things with our nature exposure calculations to optimize what kind of nature you need to expose yourself to and how often. And so, you know, we just don’t have a better way to gain intelligence around, you know, the impacts of behavior on our psychology and physiology other than quantifying.

Jared: [00:13:55] And so with the numbers are just a necessary component of that from my perspective. I think for us, it is particularly hard because there’s all these things that relate to nature like a sense of awe, like a view. You can’t really put a number on that. You know, we’re trying to quantify like mood, like how much happier you after you were, you know, sitting next to that river. That kind of stuff will never get right, but we at least can get a directional arrow as to what is good versus bad. I think we can get better and better at just kind of optimizing our health.

Jared: [00:14:28] I wanted to ask you a little bit about the kind of the nature of the development of the company where you started off had this goal and then realized that. I’ll say you bit off more than you could chew. Not in the sense that you couldn’t actually do it because you have. But just that the scope of the project got bigger when you realized, Oh, we actually need to quantify like put a score to all basically all land mass. That’s that’s what what is good? You know, what’s good or bad about this area? And then, you know, which to me seems like our gargantuan project, let alone for three people to accomplish so. Can you talk a little bit about how that developed and then and then what approach you took to actually do that and quantify?

Jared: [00:15:22] Well, we started with three people. We’re a much bigger team now. So maybe I’ll back up. So we’ve been talking about this app Nature Dose, but behind the app and actually a whole nother product line is called Nature Score. Ok. And what that is is really scoring the quantity and quality of nature for a static location. So you say you give me your house address, I can draw a radius around your house.

Jesse: [00:15:47] I actually pulled it up. I was going to ask you about that.

Jared: [00:15:49] So there you go. So that’s nature score. So what we did is we mapped all the natural elements so far in the U.S. down to about every 10 meters gridded. And so we have this, you know, Google Maps for nature, if you will, all the natural elements. We know where the trees are in the parks and the bodies of water. We know impervious surfaces. We know like the densities of highways, the building footprints things like air pollution, noise pollution, light pollution. And so we have this this big body of data telling us what nature is where roughly. And then we pull in other data sets.

Jared: [00:16:24] So like if we know population health by location, right? So where there’s a higher or lower incidence of cancer rates or heart disease asthma, we can run a machine learning process between those two data sets that bubbles up into an algorithm that says this combination of elements is the most predictive. Or most tightly associated with longevity. And so that’s how we kind of create that nature score. I agree there’s way too much data. It’s too overwhelming and too complicated to factor in all these elements without new modern machine learning processes and big data.

Jared: [00:16:57] But now we can build this nature score, which is very predictive of positive health outcomes. So it’s telling us that these natural elements that we can calculate remotely using remote sensing or supportive of health because we repeatedly see better health outcomes when they’re present, regardless of all the other covariates we throw at it. And when I say covariates that things like the average population health or income level or education level, those other factors that may be influencing health. So you hold those other factors constant. You just look at the variation in nature elements and you repeatedly see better health outcomes when, for example, you have big trees or you’re near a park, that kind of stuff.

Jesse: [00:17:37] And does it, so I’ll use myself as an example, so I pull up my address, which I won’t disclose here, but so my address has a major score of eighty eight point seven, which is a little surprising to me. We do have lots of large, old, very mature trees, which most of them are actually probably approaching 100 years old at this point. So I assume that probably helps, and we’ve got little parks throughout the various neighborhoods near me. But I also like results.

You know, the way Kansas City is laid out historically is in blocks, so there’s lots of street traffic almost no matter where you go, and I feel like that’s a detriment. So that’s why I was kind of surprised that it was as high as it was. So is it obviously you just mentioned there’s way too much data to try to do it kind of manually as a like a rough sketch? Is it the trees that are really helping me here in bringing that score up, as a guess?

Jared: [00:18:38] I would have to see your environment. I say live vegetative biomass, meaning trees are generally the largest component that we’re considering. Yeah. Is one of the most influential factors.

Jesse: [00:18:49] Okay.

Jared: [00:18:49] So if you look at like a desert or even a beach, which is sand or like a a frozen tundra, right? All of those things are nature. I mean, there doesn’t have to be any human modification, but you won’t see the same kind of health supporting outcomes. And so I assume your neighborhood probably has a lot of, you know, live vegetative biomass. That’s why you’re probably getting a higher score than you would expect.

Jesse: [00:19:12] Yeah, I can. All we can talk about it a little bit after we’re recording some more details. But —

Jared: [00:19:18] What I want to get away from? I mean, the Nature Score is amazing and we’re using in a lot of research. I think it’s a very powerful tool and it allows us to do kind of retroactive studies where we know the health outcomes by location and we can examine what’s there. But what I think is really important is changing behaviors, as we discussed, and that’s where the app comes into play. Even if you live in an area, say you live in Manhattan, right, and you have a really low Nature Score, I can tell you your nature score is going to be like below 20, probably below 10. But if you get into Central Park two or three times a week, you are getting an adequate nature dose. So you have the tools at your disposal to optimize your health, even if you don’t happen to live in the most nature rich environment.

Jesse: [00:20:03] So I think I saw something about one hundred and twenty minutes a week of exposure being your like ideal time, is that is that correct?

Jared: [00:20:13] Well, there is some consensus around one hundred points, which was largely based on a single survey done in the U.K., which showed that individuals who got that amount of kind of outdoor time per week had markedly better health outcomes. But I would say the jury’s out. There’s really no like definitive understanding as to how much time do you need to spend around nature each week.

Jared: [00:20:38] I can say more is better. And I also spend like longer sessions, if you can do 20-minute sessions, that seems to reduce your cortisol levels more, which is a stress hormone than just going out for five minutes on, you know, save from your car to the to the store, whatever. Having a designated 20 minute session seems to be more impactful. But we don’t know, and that’s one thing we’re studying quite a bit is what is the right dosage? There doesn’t seem to be an upper limit, which is a good, good sign if you want to, you know, get outside. Couple hours a day, that’s great, that doesn’t seem to be harmful at all, but I can’t tell you what the minimum is.

Jesse: [00:21:19] So I say it’s a little joking, but so if we go to the extreme end, would that suggest that we should all like live in hobbit holes and then stay like have like community outside time or like we’re all instead of working in our houses that we have, like co-working spaces inside of a garden or something that we all go to. Is that is that where you’re like trying to push us as a culture?

Jared: [00:21:43] No. So I’m going to geek out for a second. But if you look at kind of the curve of a lot of these studies where you get more and more time outside, you do see marginal improvement. But the slope of that curve gets flatter and flatter and flatter.

Jesse: [00:21:56] Okay.

Jared: [00:21:56] So if you spend two hours outside, you get a lot of benefit for that third hour. You still get benefit, but it’s less for the fifth six tenth hour. You get less and less marginal improvements. So at some point that curve gets flat and it doesn’t matter how much more time you’re spending outside, you’re not going to get anything material in terms of a benefit. So it’s not like exercise, right? If you think about it like it’s great to get some exercise, but if you start exercising constantly, there’s a point where there’s no return to it. In fact, it could become neutral to harmful. So yeah, there is a limit. We haven’t found it. I don’t know what it is, but I know there’s a limit.

Jesse: [00:22:32] As you’re describing that I was like, I talk about this sometimes on the show or I do it by myself called Runner’s High. We talking about running. There’s this that that curve of improvement goes through. Like if you work out or run five days a week, six and seven days, assuming you get enough recovery are still improvements, but they become like incremental. They’re not near as much improvement as you get for the first five days. So it’s like when people ask “Should I run every day or whatever it’s like?”, Well, it depends on your level, right? You know, if you’re trying to be the best in the world, probably you’re going to run more days because you need those incremental improvements. But most of us don’t. Anyway, we’re —

Jared: [00:23:14] Well, it’s funny. So I actually think of nature exposure a lot like exercise —

Jesse: [00:23:18] Okay.

Jared: [00:23:20] Because what’s happening when you go outside is you’re stressing your body in various ways, just like exercise as a stress and you respond by getting stronger. So when we’re inside, we’re in a pretty narrow band of temperatures, right? It’s generally quite comfortable. You go outside. It can be hot. It can be cold. That’s the stress. When you go outside, you’re getting sunlight, right? So there’s UV exposure that your body, it’s good up to a point where you’re getting vitamin D, et cetera. But it’s also can be a stress.

Jared: [00:23:44] You’re exposing your your microbiome to a whole variety of things. Trees are emitting fight and sides. There’s mushroom spores in the air. There may be pollutants, who knows, but your your immune system has to react to this foreign agents and get stronger. And in fact, we can measure that. You know, there’s this thing called natural killer cells, which are part of your immune response or these little white white blood cells that go around and attack viruses and cancers and they jump up after you’ve been in nature.

Jared: [00:24:09] And they think because that’s just your immune response to being in this diverse environment with a lot of foreign elements. So all these things are like stresses that your body then reacts to and gets a little bit stronger afterwards. So I do think of nature exposure is like another form of exercise for your body or another kind of adverse experience that requires a response, which makes you ultimately stronger.

Jesse: [00:24:31] So I’m trying to make notes because I’m like, there’s so many different things I want to ask you about. I got to back up a little bit here, and then we’ll jump back forward. So thinking about, you know, this positive correlation with turnabout green biomass, I think you say green biomass, but trees, in my case, I think and again, you’ll know better. So I’ll say something stupid and then you’ll correct me and I’ll get to learn.

Jesse: [00:25:00] You know, people talk about how to keep houseplants, then you’re healthier because they let off oxygen. I think there have been studies that are like, that’s not actually true in terms of like making them more oxygen-rich environment so that I have to think about, well, if I go outside, then I’m in a much larger airspace, I guess I’ll say with much larger plants. Do we know is the benefit from, again, that thought of like oxygen oxygenation, the carbon dioxide oxygen exchange that the plants are doing? Or is it simply like? I see green and thus my brain is happy, like, do we have any idea what that effect is?

Jared: [00:25:43] So you kind of really summarize two large schools of thought of what’s happening. One is yes, it’s direct physiological change, right? We’re experiencing something physically and our body is reacting and we’re getting almost benefit. The other is purely psychological, right? And we’ve studied that as well. And simply by looking at nature, whether it’s a picture or a screen saver also bestows benefits. So there is definitely a psychological component of us seeing nature somehow liking it. There’s this term of biofuel, you know, like this innate love for nature, and we just feel better because of that. It lowers our stress, which also has a physical impact. So no one knows whether it’s really just mental or physical or a combination of of all those things.

Jared: [00:26:30] It probably is far more complicated than we know at this point, and I don’t think anyone can tell you exactly what’s happening. What we can see are the associations, right?

Jesse: [00:26:37] Right.

Jared: [00:26:38] Give someone a view of nature and they’re happier. You get someone to go sit in a park and their heart rate goes down that we can observe repeatedly. Now what is the mechanism that’s causing all of that? We’ll find out. I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. Humans are just so complicated. It’s very hard to have confidence in any any one thing.

Jesse: [00:26:58] Well, so I know, like on the Nature Quant website, you know, talks about the various ways that you know, you could take this data and apply it to different fields and things you could do with it. The first thing that I’m not sure I just have to scroll back around here and see if it’s anything. The first thing I go to is like, what’s the complete opposite of that? And I think about astronauts.

[00:27:24] And like, they’re inside, you know what I mean, like they’re they have to be inside and try to think about like what are the implications for if we were able to find that mechanism to suggest, oh, really, all just astronauts need to stare at a screensaver of plants for an hour a day or whatever. You know, if you could figure out that actual mechanism like. Could you then improve lives like the most harsh environments that humans can exist in?

Jared: [00:27:59] I think we can get there. I mean, we’re doing the same with like our microbiome right now, right? And if you think about us interacting with our external environment and kind of a similar way, we can understand what elements need to be there to optimize our health. We’re not we’re certainly not there yet. But I can say there have been some studies where they’ll put different kinds of tree oils in a room and see what happened to people. NASA has studied putting plants in rooms and seeing what that does to the air quality, as you mentioned with mixed results.

Jared: [00:28:27] So we’re, we’re a ways off. I mean, what I want to say just generally again is like. When you’re studying humans, it’s impossible to know causality because our lives are so complicated, I mean, I’ve asked a number of people to like, prove to me that broccoli is good for you and you just can’t do it right. You could you could study people that ate salad. You could study people that had broccoli once a week. But there’s so many other things happening in everyone’s lives over the longitude of our lifestyle that you never can identify one element that is the cause.

Jared: [00:28:59] And so it’s the same with us in nature. I mean, I think we do see these associations that are so statistically significant. We know it’s important, but we’re not going to be able to pass away like it is the pine tree. Or, you know, it is when you go and float down a river, like that’s what you got to do, at least for the foreseeable future. I don’t think we’ll have that. But right now we do know that all of this new lifestyle sitting indoors in front of screens for almost 15 hours a day, never getting outside is bad for us that we know. And so we’re just trying to start with something simple get outside, get around nature, and we know you’re going to see positive impacts.

Jesse: [00:29:36] So I I did a video a while back again know, talking about running, I did a video asking about just exactly what you do does is just running in nature, provided positive benefit or does it helpful to you? And it seemed like a lot of the research that I could come up with or and or my assistant could come up with were studies done by Japanese universities. For whatever reason, it seemed to be tons of Japanese studies. Is it is that largely where the research is being conducted? Do we just have a weird run of not being able to find anybody else?

Jared: [00:30:14] That’s where it started in, like the 70s or 80s in Japanese culture, there’s this notion it’s called shinrin-yoku, which translates roughly into forest bathing. And at this point, it’s a very, very common practice there. I’ve seen stats like 40 percent of the population regularly for space. I mean, they’ve fully adopted that and recognize when you just need to get into nature because it’s so important. And so a lot of the science, particularly the 80s and 90s, started in Japan, where this concept really took fire. In fact, they have a whole governmental office. It’s like the Ministry of Forest Bathing, where its sole purpose is to get the public outside because they’re trying to reduce public health care costs, keep the population healthy. So it’s really embraced there.

Jared: [00:30:56] But what has happened, you know, really in the last 20 years is the world is recognized. Wow, they’re on to something we could all look at all this evidence. We need to take advantage of this as well. And the concept is growing broadly. You know, I’d say in the states, we’re we’re pretty far behind, I think, largely because our health care system is not single payer, right? We’re all about getting people drugs, charging them to come visit the doctor, not giving them their own tools to optimize their health or preventative medicine properly. But even in the U.S., things are catching up and people are starting to recognize how important this is.

Jesse: [00:31:28] I know. I think this was before we were recording, we were talking about. You tell me about, you know, studies have been done on the effects of nature as as we’re talking about. Can you tell me a little bit about the things that we have studied that we can conclude? And then I can repeat this because I’m sure it’s going to get meaty? What are we missing? Do you think we should be working on next?

Jared: [00:31:53] Yeah. So I’ll say historically, there’s been kind of two types of studies. One is observational, right? So the biggest and the one I like I like to point to is a meta study. So it’s actually an aggregation of about 10 other studies that looked at where people live and their proximity to green. So how much green is around their house? And I think in total, if you combine all the studies, it was like over eight million individuals that they tracked and they looked at relative greenness around their house and they found for every 10 percent increase in greenness, there was a four percent reduction in all cause mortality. Regardless of what coverage you provided.

Jared: [00:32:30] So that’s telling us very, very clearly that you just you prevent disease by living around nature, right? There’s less premature mortality. So that’s huge and that’s a big observational study and there’s been a ton of those looking at different things. There’s also been a bunch of small interventional studies and interventional meaning. They’ll take a dozen people have, you know, some of them sit in the park, some of them walk in a city and then measure their mood, measure their biomarkers, measure their cognitive performance afterwards.

Jared: [00:32:58] And they keep seeing that the group that sits in the park is happier, right? They have better memory. They’re able to focus on things. Their blood pressure has gone down, as I mentioned in the group, walking in the city seen one of those benefits. So those are all you know. That’s great and it’s small scale and the observational stuff is big scale. But we don’t have is tracking individuals over the course of their lives, like throughout the course of a week. How are you behaving?

Jared: [00:33:24] And that’s exactly what our Nature Dose does. And now monitors your time inside, outside and close to nature throughout the course of your life, not just for a 10-minute walk in the park. And so we’ll really be able to see going forward if we pair our data with health outcomes or other biomarkers or Fitbit watches or rings. Exactly what is the impact? Do we see that people that get outside are sleeping better? Do we see that their heart rate variability has improved? Maybe there. Do we see that they recover from exercise faster? All of those things we will be able to study in depth, not just over a single intervention, but over the course of their life.

Jesse: [00:34:03] It makes me wonder. You personally, I mean, you’re your data guy, obviously, but I kind of wonder like given the nature in the emergency going by my house, think you can hear that.

Jared: [00:34:22] Yeah.

Jesse: [00:34:25] Just take a minute. Five fire alarm, apparently. All right. So given the like mission of the company, it makes me think. I don’t know. I don’t know. Calling you a romantic is the right word, but it seems like you’re trying to save humanity from itself. Is that is there a spirit of that or are you just like, I just love the numbers?

Jared: [00:34:53] Yes. Well, I’m fascinated by both. I mean, I love numbers and I love nature. So this is like the perfect combination for me. Yeah, there is definitely a sense that we can do a lot of good with this. You know, it’s hard to say like you never like, take a bite of something and it’s just phenomenal. It’s just delicious and you want to share it right? Someone like me that spend a lot of time outside and really receive tremendous benefit from it.

Jared: [00:35:22] Physically, I feel great afterwards, mentally, like I just get a clear head, like just just pure energy. My most creative, most kind of, I think productive time is after I’m outside. It’s awesome and I want to share that feeling with people. And so, you know, it’s just kind of like sharing a delicious bite of something. You know, you found something you think is important and great and you just want the world to know about it.

Jared: [00:35:46] And I don’t want to say that the world doesn’t know about it, but I can see from all the data, demographic data and the data now that we’re collecting in our phones. Really, people are not using time outside, they’re really not getting into nature as often as they could to optimize their health. So I do think there’s a huge opportunity to improve things.

Jesse: [00:36:06] Is it so like? You know, we were talking about, you know, our screen time and just the kind of confluence of all different things that kind of force us into screen time in part and then also, you know, entertainment, it’s I was just talking on my with my previous guest. She was an ultra runner. We were talking about ultrarunning being entertainment. Obviously, that’s outside. But not everybody takes up an indoor sport or adventure racing as a form of entertainment.

Jesse: [00:36:38] It’s it’s easier to pick up your phone and flop on social media and get on Reddit or YouTube or whatever it is. Listen to a podcast like this one a little more accessible. Are we — losing my train of thought? Are we working against ourselves? Is it like trying to get people to eat their vegetables when it’s like, No, just what pizza like? The pizza is delicious and you’re like, Yeah, but the vegetables are good for you. And like you said earlier, we can’t prove that broccoli is the one thing that’s going to save us. Like, you know, are we are we working against our own nature to try to help ourselves basically?

Jared: [00:37:19] Yeah. In a way. I mean, I think what you get out of nature, at least for me, is different than an instant dopamine hit or what you would classify as raw fun. You know, there’s this you may have heard this notion that there’s like different types of fun, right? You know, the three types of fun. Nature is not always like type one fun. It’s not always like, this is great in the moment, but it certainly is rewarding and satisfying. And I think in total provides a lot of value to your life.

Jared: [00:37:49] And so, yeah, it might be cold outside or it might be hot and you might go for a walk and be a little bit uncomfortable in the moment. But afterwards you, you feel a lot better. So you have to be able to recognize that kind of more long term vision that, oh yeah, it kind of sucked when it was snowing on me. But now I feel great. I’m so glad I went outside. And so it’s it’s just a different aspect of fun or satisfaction or whatever you want to call it that nature provides. It’s not on par with, you know, playing a video game or something. That’s instant.

Jesse: [00:38:21] So is it? Is it really as simple as like recognizing, Oh, I don’t get outside much and just downloading the app? Is it as easy as that?

Jared: [00:38:31] No, no. It’s just like, you know, dieting is not easy. Exercise is not easy. I think you kind of have to have the vision that, hey, it depends what your goals are like if you’re trying to just improve your health. Like if that’s important to you, this is one thing that you should consider, right? This is an aspect of managing your health. That’s that’s important. So I think you can’t create that intrinsic motivation just by telling someone, go outside, they just have to create that on their own for whatever reason.

Jared: [00:39:00] I mean, we could build little badges and rewards into the app and do all those kinds of like, you know, things to motivate people. But ultimately, I don’t think those are permanent. Permanently, just someone needs to take ownership of, look, I want to manage my health, and I know this is a great way to do it. And here’s a nice tool to do that. So those are the people I think will probably have the most long term success.

Jesse: [00:39:21] Yeah.

Jared: [00:39:22] And maybe not. Maybe I mean, we don’t have like behavioral psychologists on our team. Maybe there is a better way to get people motivated. But right now we’re just kind of trying to educate and deliver useful tools so people can manage their time outside.

Jesse: [00:39:36] Yeah. Well, I mean. My opinion for what that’s worth, motivation is so illusory, like I used to believe when I was younger that like I had enough motivation that I could motivate anybody, which isn’t true if I’ve come to the conclusion, at least for now, maybe I’ll change my mind. It has to be started with the individual like they already have to have something going. I think of it like a fire. Like, I can’t light the fire for you, but I can help fan the flames kind of feel like that. Maybe that’s the place of of what you guys are doing. Like, you can’t make me be like, I want to spend time in nature. But if I do, then you can help, like stoke that fire and help keep it going a little bit easier than maybe if I was just left to my own devices and I didn’t know what to do.

Jared: [00:40:29] Yeah, I see that. I see it the same. And I think, you know, again, given that we seem novel, which is again ironic, just raising awareness around it. You know, if you’re inside and then you go and you work out in the gym and then you’re sleeping in at work and you’re just never going outside, you are missing one aspect of managing your health. And so just making people aware of that, and I think one good way to do that is have them monitor it.

Jesse: [00:40:55] Yeah. Jared, as we’re starting to run down on time, I don’t know if you listen to Chris’ episode I did with him. If you did, you know, I ask a question to everybody for a whole season now, Chris was last season, I think, I think in season three or season four. So you get a different question than what I ask Chris. And I think this is prescient for you, especially because things are going well with Nature Quant. So, this is a question, because so many people don’t do this, I want to focus on it this year, and that is how do you celebrate your wins?

Jared: [00:41:32] Well, it’s interesting.

Jesse: [00:41:36] Besides going outside.

Jared: [00:41:37] Yeah, I mean, I can look at that as an individual or as a corporation. You know, I think for me individually, I’m just excited about growth. So it’s never really a win. It’s just like an incremental step in and something new, something better, something more efficient. And so maybe that’s unfortunate because I’ve never fully satisfied. But that’s really how I celebrate. It’s like, OK, I have advanced. I know I’m clearly better than I was yesterday.

Jared: [00:42:07] I think for the company, it’s actually quite similar. You know, as we’ve aggregated more and more data and applied our data in different ways, both now the app going forward and the nature score data. Historically, we’re finding all these new applications that are super exciting. You know, we’re looking at urban heat islands as they relate to nature. We have a university studying crime rates as they relate to nature, and we also will be able to parse out like individual health outcomes. So that’s all exciting. And I think, you know, for me, being curious and then seeing all these opportunities apply, all these new really amazing technologies to novel fields, it’s just great. I mean, it’s super exciting.

Jesse: [00:42:47] Before we go, I just have one last thought. I’m reading this book very short thing, so it’s like a before bed kind of thing. And you probably know I’m going to butcher the pronunciation, but the Japanese concept of Ikigai where you were your career, your purpose, your passion, all these things come together where life kind of becomes a little bit seamless. In the book focuses a lot on the blue zones, you know, especially the ones in Japan where people have really long lives. Many of them spend time outside gardening. I, you know, you talk about the things you’re interested in, what you’re doing, and I wonder and maybe just hope for you that this is your Ikigai that you found the thing that propels you forward in alignment with, you know, all of your, you know, life’s missions and things.

Jared: [00:43:46] It definitely is feeling that way. I mean, I definitely wake up excited to do this, and I often forget that this is a charmer company. I mean, my my colleagues are like, Yes, that’s really fascinating, but that’s not part of the business. So I’m like pulling into all these tangents because I’m just passionate about it. So, yeah, I think you’re dead on there. This is kind of a it’s a passion of mine as much as it is a company.

Jesse: [00:44:11] Jared, if people want to check out the app, check out what you guys are doing. Get in touch with you, any of that kind of stuff, where where can they find that? Download it all that kind of stuff?

Jared: [00:44:20] Yeah, totally. Well, Nature Quant is the company and our website’s The app is Nature Dose, as I mentioned, and that’s available in the iOS or Android stores. You can download it and then, you know, I’m on LinkedIn, Jared Hanley. So if anyone wants to just reach out with some research ideas or applications of our technology, we’re always excited to talk.

Jesse: [00:44:46] Awesome. Jared, thanks for hanging out with me today.

Jared: [00:44:48] Yeah, that was a fun conversation. Thank you, Jesse.

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