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“Go outside! It’s good for you!”

April 4, 2012

While this may be a common phrase used by mothers to get their children out of the house, it turns out Mom was right. From doctors and environmentalists to First Mom Michelle Obama, people from all walks of life are promoting the health benefits of getting outdoors. And if “Because I said so,” isn’t convincing enough logic for you, here are five reasons parks are good for your health:

1) Soak up a little vitamin D. Vitamin D is a super-vitamin that helps support bone health and your immune system. It may also help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even cancer. Sure, you could take vitamin supplements, but doesn’t soaking up some sunshine sound so much more pleasant? It’s just what the doctor ordered.http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-d/NS_patient-vitamin

2) Exercise your eyes. Your pupils contract, similar to muscles, when focusing on objects at varying distances. When we’re inside, we tend to focus our eyes directly in front of us—often looking at a computer or TV screen. When we’re in the great outdoors, our eyes have to do a lot more work as we take in our new surroundings. While exercising your eyes won’t necessarily improve your eyesight, strengthening the muscles around your eyes can help relieve the stress of eye strain. http://www.ehow.com/how_2077740_exercise-eye-muscles.html

3) Exercise your body, too! Parks, greenways, and trails enable and encourage people to exercise. Studies reviewed in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed a nearly 50% increase in the frequency of physical activity with the “creation or enhanced access to places for physical activity.” In short, easy access to parks and other places to exercise helps get people moving and leading healthier lifestyles, overall. http://www.eastshorepark.org/HealthBenefitsReport_FINAL_010307.pdf

4) Just five minutes of “green activity” can improve your mood and self-esteem. Researchers at the University of Essex found that as little as five minutes per day of outdoor exercise, such as walking, gardening, or cycling can reduce the risk of mental illness and improve one’s sense of well-being. The researchers found that children and teens, in particular, showed great health benefits from a five-minute dose of “green exercise. http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/05/02/us-mental-health-green-idUSTRE6401Y620100502

5) Parks help us clean up our messes. Plant roots help improve water quality by metabolizing or trapping pollutants. Plant leaves also trap airborne dust and soot, improving air quality. In cities where the dark surfaces of rooftops, roads, and parking lots create urban heat islands, parks help provide shade and, according to the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture, a mature tree canopy “reduces air temperature by about five to ten degrees.”http://www.planning.org/cityparks/briefingpapers/physicalactivity.htm

Looking for things to do while you’re boosting your health outside? We’ve got a few suggestions… http://www.forterra.org/events


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2012 1:44 am

    Its like you read my thoughts! You appear to grasp so much about this, like you wrote the e book in it or something. I believe that you simply can do with some % to power the message home a bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.

  2. April 16, 2012 3:53 pm

    Thanks for reading! Great post, Stephanie.

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