The pace of our living has become FAST – paying our bills online with a click, getting fast food lunch, carrying hi-tech gadgets in our pockets and purses to quickly communicate, ordering take out dinner, learning the professor’s lecture via web cam, paying sympathy respects via drive through funeral wakes, checking in at airport kiosks v. working with an airline attendant, and the list goes on. The demands of home, work, school, family and relationships compete with our precious time, making for a hectic lifestyle. Ever feel like you’re caught in a tornado? Whirling out of control? “Burning the candle at both ends”? We know all too well that if we don’t take control and manage the demands on our precious time, stress will consume us and affect our health. What can we do? Spending more time in nature is good for you, your health AND it’s cheap! Research shows that time in green areas is important to overall health and well-being of children as well as adults.
I am a walker and love the outdoors. Although today when my body alarm clock woke me up at 5:30am to get in my five miles and the late summer winds had turned unseasonably cool and brisk, I wanted to stay in bed. I made myself get up, get out and go green. As time and scenery passed (a neighbor’s cow had a calf through the night, a black squirrel scampered at the bird feeder and a deer with her twin fawns crossed the field), I felt energized! Let’s face it, Mother Nature is beautiful. The trees, the flowers, the rivers and the sunlight all give you a peaceful environment to help you gather your thoughts and calm your nerves. After being stuck in a stale, stuffy house, office or school all day, it’s nice to get outdoors and breathe in the nice fresh air.
AND, A reduction in outdoor activity and the alarmingly increasing sedentary lifestyle shows a rise in obesity rates too. Evidence shows that adult patterns of exercise are set early on in life. Inactivity breeds inactivity – so a lack of exercise when you’re young can in turn create problems in adulthood, such as diabetes and heart disease. Not only is our physical health at risk, our mental well-being is compromised given the fast paced, stressful lives that many now lead. Access to nature can help to improve our physical and mental health by encouraging us to walk more, to play outdoors, or simply to enjoy it. In other words, our open spaces are a powerful weapon in the fight against obesity and ill-health. (Researchers have studied the positive impact of outdoors on children with ADHD.)
There’s no doubt about it, getting outdoors and walking is good for you. It’s good for your heart, it’s good for your lungs, it’s good for the muscle and bone growth of your children and it’s good for your feeling of wellbeing! Strong scientific evidence now supports the many benefits to health of regular walking.
“I have two doctors, my left leg and my right.” George Trevelyan, 1913
So, when you and/or your family are busy in that fast pace and you think spending time outside is only a luxury you can’t afford, I hope you recall this reminder to get out, get green and spend some time in nature. Your health cannot not afford it! (Take care you, your health and Mother Nature!)