Research Finds that a Stroll in the Park Helps Mind and Body
For years now, experts have been encouraging kids to engage in physical exercise and abandon their x-box, even just for an hour a day, with slogans like “get outside”, while we, as adults, workout either within the confined spaces of our living rooms or at the nearby gym. However, there’s now reason to believe that humans of any age should: get outside!
The fact that there is a strong co-relation between physical activity and mental wellbeing is well-documented; exercising in a ‘green’ space is even more beneficial, according to researchers, even if it’s just for five minutes a day.
The importance of getting sufficient exercise each day has become mainstream ideology, but not so stressed is the fact that our exercise should take place in natural, green surroundings for optimum mental benefits and overall wellbeing.
U.K. researchers conducted ten studies involving 1,250 people in various outdoor activities, including walking, cycling, gardening, boating, etc. and found quick improvements in mood and self-esteem, especially among young people. The effect was even greater in an area with some ‘blue’, such as a lake or a river.
‘Green’ exercise was also seen to do wonders for the mentally-ill. These disorders, according to experts, are on the rise, with 1 in 4 people predicted to be afflicted with a mental disorder at some point in their lives. While tests cannot conclusively say that this is a result of our ‘green’ space being swallowed up by cement-encased cities, ‘green’ should definitely be part of the treatment as a drug-free form of therapy. That’s why it’s vital that urban areas have parks and ‘natural’ areas. Those suffering from high-stress jobs could also benefit greatly from short periods of ‘green’ exercise. Study leader Jules Pretty from the University of Essex says: “Employers, for example, could encourage staff in stressful workplaces to take a short walk at lunchtime in the nearest park to improve mental health.”
It’s free. It’s natural. And it’s therapeutic. Green environments are apparently the perfect ‘gym’ in which to carry out our exercise activities. Who knew? So before I head out for a stroll in the park, let me just say, “get outside!”