OK. Nature therapy and the data that supports it is so compelling that some doctors are giving their patients “nature prescriptions”….handing out trail maps with instructions on whether to run, walk or just sit. They are treating conditions ranging from heart disease, diabetes to depression. One of the reasons that outside therapies are so powerful is because it is FREE and so some patients are more likely to stick with it. In fact, in a recent survey, women generally knew that being outside with nature was beneficial and over 70 percent wanted to spend more time outside, but didn’t. It seems that women are intimidated by weather that is either too hot or too cold or they are just too comfortable inside and don’t take the step outside. The facts are that you don’t even need to do much outside to reap the benefits. If you just sit 15 minutes on a bench in the woods, your stress level, heart rate and blood pressure will lower. Other research shows that just 5 minutes in nature will boost your MOOD.
Of the 40 major cities in the US, most people live within .5m from a park. (96% of New Yorkers) So, look at maps of the parks and search out activities offered outside by your city. Don’t under estimate the help you can get from Google maps. Walking and biking routes are available. What about joining your community garden group?
Running on a trail will improve your balance and agility while giving you an extra boost of nature. Beware that your regular running shoes might get trashed. It just depends on how off road you are willing to go. Most parks even in the city have footpaths that are not paved. Start there. You will be surprised how the boredom is gone and the run is faster and over before you want it to be. If you like it, think bigger. Trail runs are special. Check out: Northface endurance challenge trail runs.
Not only does playing a sport keep your body in shape it apparently keeps your mind in shape too. Research from the University of Montreal found that athletes performed better on cognitive test than people who did not play sports. People who play sports have a heighten sense of what is going on around them. So find the athlete in you. Join your local Y and get on a team. Softball, basketball, volleyball, whatever. Take it outside and get your nature fix too. Did we mention how fun sports are and fun people play them. Have fun and get smarter.