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In the near future, your doctor may prescribe getting outside and embracing nature. Your doctor may suggest that you participate in green exercise, or they may write a nature prescription.

Green exercise includes any physical activity that takes place outdoors. Think about taking a walk in nature, exploring a park, or discovering a new forest area.

Michigan State University Extension has an interesting article about the benefits of green exercise. Some of these benefits may include:

  • boosting the immune system
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing stress
  • improving mood
  • increasing ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
  • accelerating recovery from surgery or illness
  • increasing energy level
  • improving sleep

According to research from the University of Washington, exposure to trees and other natural features provide positive changes to our emotional well-being, such as reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.

Driftwood

While visiting Whidbey Island, Washington, I enjoyed finding this artistic piece of driftwood and rocks. Someone left this “gift of nature” for anyone who came upon it to enjoy. If we take a moment to pause and reflect on the beauty of nature, we may find that our stress levels are reduced, our mind calms and we feel more positive.

I love being outdoors – it is good for me both physically and mentally. Spending time in nature helps me slow down the pace and embrace the beauty of nature.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Do you need a little more motivation to get started? Join Ohio State University Extension for their free October webinar series on Hiking and Health. Register by September 24th at go.osu.edu/HikingHealth . You will enjoy learning about topics such as food safety on the trail, proper gear selection, plant identification, tick prevention and proper hydration techniques.

Sources:

American Heart Association (2018). Spend Time in Nature to Reduce Stress and Anxiety. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/spend-time-in-nature-to-reduce-stress-and-anxiety.

Fogel, A. (2010). Green Exercise. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/body-sense/201009/green-exercise

Green Cities, Good Health. University of Washington. https://depts.washington.edu/hhwb/

BBC News (2018). ‘Nature’ being prescribed by GPs in Shetland. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-45758016

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Immerse Yourself in a Forest for Better Health. https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html

Tiret, H. June, 2017. Green exercise can improve physical and mental health. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/green_exercise_can_improve_physical_and_mental_health

Written by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

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