Green Exercise is Better than a Trip to the Gym

Monday, August 23, 2010
Exercising in nature daily, even for a short time, could significantly improve mood and self-esteem, as well as boost physical and mental health, reveals a new study from the United Kingdom’s University of Essex. Though the study isn’t the first to show that time spent in nature has major physical and mental implications, it is the only one to quantify the health benefits of green exercise (physical activity done outdoors, in nature), according to the university's researchers.

Scientists studied the habits of 1,252 people of different ages, backgrounds, and health conditions to determine whether green exercise (such as walking, cycling, fishing, water-sports, horse-riding, gardening, or farming) had positive effects on health, especially on mental health. While all types of natural environments produced some degree of positive results (even green urban environments), the researchers noted that those that contained a water-mass generated greater improvements. Finally, green exercise was shown to have the biggest impact on young people and those with mental illness, according to the study.

Interestingly, researchers speculate that health care related costs could be reduced by increasing access to nature and by "self-medicating" using green exercise.

Now, doesn't that walk in the park sound way better than a prescription drug or "treadmilling" in some sweaty/smelly gym? This research has proven outdoor activity effectively improves all those sadly familiar conditions arising from our lifestyle of poor diet and sedentarity.  So, run, bike, walk, swim, watch birds, tend your garden, go golfing or skateboarding... whatever  you like to do outdoors, do it! And do it daily!

Join me *outdoors* for my daily walk, will you? 


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