Spend More Time In Nature For Your Health
Updated: Jun 22, 2020
Maybe you've had the experience on a beach, next to a river, or on a mountain; life seems to slow down and no where else in the world matters as much as what's in front of you. Experiences like that aren't just pretty pictures, they're great for your health. Studies show that as little as 30 minutes in nature is beneficial, and spending more time outdoors is connected with better health overall. Nature, especially wooded areas, may help you do more than rest and relax, it may help you to heal.
If you're anything like the average American, the vast majority of your life is spent indoors. Some of this is for the better of course, there's nothing healthy about spending too much time outdoors in the middle of winter. But if 93% of your life is time spent indoors (like the average American), you're probably not getting out enough. What can we do to change our lifestyle?
The practice of "forest bathing" is not common to our culture but is better known in Japan. Put simply, the practice of forest bathing is spending time in the forest without anything distracting you from the forest itself. You'll take time to enjoy the scents, the sights, the sounds, and even the touch of the forest you're walking in. It probably goes without saying, but you won't need your phone for this time outside (so leave it hidden in your car if you can).
If you're familiar with mindfulness, this may sound pretty familiar; simply place your focus on what's around you instead of what's going on in your mind. And forest bathing, like mindfulness, is showing results when studied. Forest bathing sessions are generally a little longer than a walk in the park, with results starting past 2 hours. This is something you can add to the start or end of a hike, time spent slowing down after seeing someplace new.
For something a little closer to home, as little as 15 minutes outdoors boosts your vitamin D. This is something you can count as part of a walking routine; you aren't only exercising if you're exercising outdoors. Add in some quick interactions with your neighbors and you're getting in a lot of healthy behaviors in a short time. Just remember, if you're not choosing time outdoors more often than the average American, you're just not outdoors enough.
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