“Go green” for better health

By Shayna Brouker • Published: March 14th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

With spring just around the corner, the winter doldrums have begun to subside in many parts of the country. The air feels balmy, flowers are beginning to poke through the ground, and birds chirp cheerfully. Now is the perfect time to “go green” — and not necessarily by honing your green thumb in the garden. Spring is in the air, so stop trudging away on that tedious treadmill and take your workout outdoors — go green and get outside.

After analyzing over one thousand people of both genders, all ages and varying states of mental health, American Chemical Society researchers found that when it comes to getting some “green exercise,” quality wins out over quantity. A recent study found that as little as five minutes of outdoor activity in a green area — whether it be walking, cycling, boating fishing, horseback-riding or farming — is enough to significantly boost physical and mental well-being.

The more green, the better, and spaces with water improve mood and self-esteem even more. Urban oases provide serenity and solace, too.

In fact, the effects of spending time in nature are so powerful that scientists suggest it could reduce medical costs and benefit society as a whole if doctors “prescribed” outdoor exercise as medication for mental illness. While not everyone can enjoy the luxury of a gym membership, most people are just a hop, skip and a jump away from a verdant environment. Nature is accessible to everyone, and it nurtures indiscriminately.

So put a little spring in your step, do yourself and your health a favor and put in some quality time with Mother Nature. Skip the stuffy gym for once and head outside for some fresh air. After all, who doesn’t love a springtime bike ride through the park?