Trying to decide on an activity to keep yourself healthy this summer?
Try green exercise.
Green exercise refers to physical activity that is done while simultaneously being exposed to nature. Various forms of green exercise include hiking, biking, outdoor sports or beach activities.
This study has been published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, and shows that as little as five minutes of green exercise improves both mood and self-esteem. The greatest improvements were seen when exercise was done near a body of water.
The Essex researchers have also shown that after people perform green exercise:
—Two out of three people have improved self-esteem.
—Two out of three people have improved mood.
—Three out of four people feel less depressed, tense and angry.
Green exercise has numerous health benefits because connecting with nature reduces stress levels and offers a healing, relaxing environment.
These emotional benefits come with the pure physical benefits of exercise that include cardiovascular conditioning and muscle toning.
These results are not surprising. But for those of us who get bored walking on a treadmill or elliptical trainer, these findings suggest different exercise options.
How about going for a 30-minute, early-morning walk in the local park or an after-dinner stroll along the river? How about taking a bike ride instead of watching your favorite show on the boob tube in the evening? You will end up healthier, both physically and mentally.
So go green and go take a hike! It may be the best prescription you can give your health this summer.
Published June 4, 2010 in The Republic. Integrative medicine: Green exercise is good for the body and mind. Judge, Kay and Barish-Wreden, Maxine.