Doctors are urging patients to not only exercise, but to take it outside. Doctors are trying everything in their power to help people ditch the treadmill for nature walks. Faced with a working population that spends hours on end on the computer screens, only to get glued to their TV sets in the evening, the struggle for such practitioners is real. Such sedentary lives coupled with unhealthy eating habits have led to ballooning rates of obesity, a pathway to other life-threatening complications.
Drug: Exercise in Liberty State Park
Dosage: 45-60 min of running or walking
Directions: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and possibly Sundays at 7 am
The above is just an example of some of the new types of prescriptions making waves across the medical community and helping to combat obesity, among other ailments. Is the green prescription just a gimmick, or will it take off? Your guess is as good as mine. Time will tell. But the real question remains: why are doctors encouraging us to take it outside? Read on.
1. A Harder Workout Regime
Your body encounters a constantly-changing regime when working out outside. Whether running, walking, or riding a bicycle, your body needs to adapt to the ever-changing environment to keep up with the minor changes such as inclines, obstacles, and bumps. It means your body works harder compared to running on a treadmill or a cycling machine.
2. Short-Term Memory Improvement
Taking a stroll in nature could improve one’s short-term memory. A research study on Michigan students confirmed this by looking at two groups of students sent on two different paths. One group got tasked with walking in an arboretum, while the other took a city street. When the memory test results came out, the group that took the arboretum walk registered a 20% higher score on their short-term memory test compared to their counterparts.
A similar test conducted on depressed individuals showed an improvement in their short-term memory for those who took the nature walk as compared to those in an urban setting.
3. Decreased Mental Fatigue
Sometimes, our minds tend to give up on us due to work-related pressures. By surrounding ourselves with refreshing and rejuvenating environments, we can restore our minds to their original state before they sputter to a halt. Such environments are usually outdoors!
4. Help in Fighting Anxiety and Depression
A simple nature walk can aide in reducing our levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. It is useful when such walks get combined with little bouts of periodic exercises. This type of activity has shown a lot of promise as being clinically useful to treat severe depressive disorders.
5. No Membership Fees
The outdoors belongs to every one of us. Doctors advocate the use of nature while exercising, which makes sense – after all, it’s just about the only place where we can get clean, fresh air and a free dose of vitamin D. On top of that, the membership is free. Maybe you’re wondering what the connection between free membership and health is. Well, gym membership costs can add to the plethora of financial worries affecting your mental state. Maybe it’s time you took the free option.
6. Protection Against Cancer, and an Immunity Boost
Although tests are still ongoing, preliminary reports indicate that exposure to nature increases one’s ability to produce anti-cancer proteins that may last up to seven days after interacting with nature. “Shinrin-Yoku,” or forest bathing, is known by many in Japan as a form of preventive medicine. Studies have shown that areas with large or dense forest covers have the lowest mortality rates, particularly when it comes to cancer.
The anti-cancer properties of dense forest cover are also an indicative sign of an increased immune system, which aids in thwarting minor illnesses such as cold and flu, among other diseases.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that “taking it outside” pays handsomely. Whether cycling, using motorized vehicles, running, or walking, the point is, interacting with nature pays off when it comes to health and overall well-being. As spirituality finds its way in modern medicine, nature hasn’t been left behind, and is increasingly the best prescription.