By David Suzuki Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Do you want to be happier, healthier, and smarter? I have just the prescription for you: add a daily dose of nature to your routine.
Over the past decade, researchers from fields as diverse as biology, psychiatry, engineering, horticulture, neuroscience and medicine have realized what most of us know intuitively: nature is good for our health and wellbeing.
These experts have discovered countless links between time spent outdoors and cognitive, physical, and emotional improvement. Studies show that enjoying a natural setting — like a park, beach, wetland, or forest — can reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and stress levels. Exposure to nature can help you sleep well and increase vigor and liveliness. It can even boost your immune system.
(It sounds like a doctor's prescription with no side effects, and no cost.)
In their new book Your Brain on Nature, naturopath Alan Logan and Harvard physician Eva Selhub cite dozens of studies that demonstrate the health benefits of the natural world.
They even refer to outdoor physical activity as “exercise squared” because it can increase energy and fitness levels while reducing fatigue, depression, and obesity.
Green space is as close as your local park or backyard garden. Trails, ravines, and community gardens are often a short distance from the daily grind. And birds, bees, and other critters are usually nearby; you just have to take time to slow down, breathe, watch and listen.
Another idea for getting your daily dose of nature: Ditch the indoor gym and go for a run or walk in a park or on a trail instead.
Use your lunch break to get out of the office and visit a nearby green space. Find a nice leafy tree and read a book in the shade. Brush off your green thumb and spruce up your garden.
For the young at heart, a British organization called the National Trust has put together a list of 50 outdoor adventures all children should have before they are 12. The list, found at the Daily Mail, boasts the joys of rolling down a big hill, eating an apple picked fresh from a tree, and hunting for bugs.
The 30x30 Challenge at DavidSuzuki.org challenges you to incorporate small natural diversions into your daily routine for a month. Add some green to your commute, lunch break, workout schedule, or playtime. And remember, a daily dose of nature is good for your head, heart, and health.
(Find out more at www.davidsuzuki.org)
|Civics and World|