Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Healing Power of Nature

I can honestly say that spending time in my garden is a really, really relaxing and rejuvenating activity. If I knew what's good for me, I'd spend even more time outdoors, but that isn't always possible. There's always too much to do, and too little time to do it all.

I came across this article from To Your Health, and it was a reminder to me of how important it is to take time to relax and, literally, smell the roses.

The Healing Power of Nature

In a world increasingly dominated by video games and processed foods - conveniences that typically keep people indoors and sedentary - spending time outdoors is an absolute necessity from a health and wellness perspective. Evidence suggests a lack of time spent enjoying nature and all it has to offer can directly and indirectly contribute to obesity, depression and other serious health conditions.

The triad of inattentive, impulsive and hyperactive behavior has increased ramatically in recent years. Thinking beyond the widespread use of drugs that is standard treatment for ADHD, exposure to nature can have a positive influence on concentration. Children are better able to focus after a 20-minute walk in a natural setting. In fact, taking walks in nature (e.g., the woods or a beach), compared to in urban or residential areas, has resulted in improvements in ADHD symptoms.

Approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population is affected by depression during a given year. A common nonpharmaceutical treatment recommended for the prevention of depression is exercise. It has been found that "green" exercise provides adults with a "recess" in a natural environment. Joggers who exercise in a natural green setting with trees, foliage and landscape views feel more restored and less angry, anxious and depressed than people who exercise in a gym. It has also been noted that one of the main benefits of spending time in nature is stress reduction.

There has been dramatic increase in childhood obesity during the past two decades. The complexity of childhood overweight and obesity is not addressed by simply blaming it on an increase in consumption of junk food and time spent watching TV, DVDs and other visual media. Just as important as the limitation of passive eisure time is playtime that is unstructured, imaginative and exploratory with xposure to the outdoors. Play in a natural setting seems to offer special benefits including better motor fitness, especially in terms of balance and agility.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends key strategies to prevent childhood obesity including BMI measurement in schools and offering nutritious choices in school meal programs. Physical activity guidelines include daily physical education classes and intramural programs for all grades with active play and recess activities for younger students.

Talk to your doctor about the value of a well-rounded lifestyle that can keep you and your entire family healthy.

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