February 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 26

H E A LT H & W E L L N E S S

Want Better Health? Get Back to Nature
By Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum

F

ebruary is American Heart Month, and you probably know the
sage advice that eating nutrient-rich foods and exercising can help
keep your heart healthy (tinyurl.com/rphmhnb). But, you might
also want to consider adding a dose of nature to your health routine. Spending time in the great outdoors may have a positive impact on
your overall health, including your heart and brain.

Research shows that spending
time in a natural outdoor
environment can be associated
with lower levels of stress,
depression, anxiety, high blood
pressure, diabetes, asthma,
stroke and heart disease.
Research shows that spending
time in a natural outdoor environment can be associated with lower
levels of stress, depression, anxiety,
high blood pressure, diabetes, asth24

Parks & Recreation

ma, stroke and heart disease. It can
also help lower your heart rate, HDL
cholesterol and cortisol levels, according to environmental research
published in 2018. At the same
time, it improves mood, self-esteem,
working memory and overall feelings of well-being. This trend, called
" ecotherapy " or " forest medicine, " is
growing in popularity.

Four Ways to Get
Healthy and Outside
If you find yourself feeling a little sluggish or spending more time glued to
the computer, cellphone or TV, con-

| F E B R U A RY 2 02 0 | W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G

sider some of these simple ways to immerse yourself in nature and reap the
benefits for both body and mind.
1. Take your workout outdoors.
Walking is good for you, but not all
walks are created equal. Strolling
the urban streets doesn't provide the
same mental boost as hiking in nature. You don't have to have a specific destination in mind either - set
a goal, not to hike a certain number
of miles, but to immerse yourself in
the natural world around you, according to Dr. Qing Li. The Japanese call this " forest bathing, " and
it can rejuvenate a weary mind.
2. Explore your city. Make a goal
to explore a new park, trail or recreation area each weekend. Studies
have found that simply viewing nature scenes can help your body recover from and adapt better to emotional
stressors. For even more benefit, make



February 2020 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of February 2020 - Parks & Recreation

February 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 1
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