Scientific studies have proven that, not only walking, but just being in nature has a profound positive impact on our health. Of course, we know that if we walk at least 15 minutes a day, we will have fewer diseases and are less likely to get cancer, have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke and have better bone density.
But recent researchers are now demonstrating a reduction in stress, blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as an upswing in mood and general outlook on life just as a result of being outside. They have also shown a link to longevity and decreased risk of mental illness and depression. (Kuo and Taylor 2004, DeVries et al. 2003) Health benefits of nature may also have relevance to injury prevention and control, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, musculoskeletal conditions, and other maladies, including cancer (Li 2009).
Drawing attention to these benefits of outdoor leisure and recreation for improved health helps shift attention from the downstream costs of health care to the upstream efforts to prevent ill health from occurring. An upstream focus is always empowering and enables individuals to take a more prominent role in our own wellness.
So, take control and get out there! Enjoy everything around you, and take the time to PLAY. After all, you’re never too old to jump in the leaves!
Susan S. Covey is the Director of Health and Fitness at Bayleigh-Chase.
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