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Science and research

Get outside for your spring self-care routine

The start of spring often fuels our sense of purpose, with the returning sun and warmth giving us energy and vigor that prompts many of us to recommit achieving our goals and intentions!

Spring also provides a renewal for many of our ecosystems, with parks, gardens and forests coming back to life and flourishing. These natural landscapes are a perfect setting for mental health-boosting walks and wheels that can kickstart your spring renewal routines.

 

woman walking in a parkThat’s because spending time outdoors, especially in green spaces, is good for you.

Research consistently shows that strolling through your local parks, hiking through the woods and walking beachside can improve moods and reduce anxiety, lower stress levels, decrease blood pressure and reduce the risk of asthma, allergies, diabetes and cardiovascular disease while boosting mental health and increasing life expectancy.

Even better, you don’t have to commit to grueling hour-long hikes to get the most benefits from your outdoor time. A 2019 study shows that people who spent just two hours a week or more outdoors reported being in better health and having a greater sense of well-being than people who didn’t get out at all.

 

elder man biking in a forestSimple, leisurely outdoor activities like walks also have another big advantage.

Exercise, like many habits, tends to be abandoned if it doesn’t bring consistent enjoyment. There are many factors that work together to impact how we feel about getting active, but according to experts, intensity and duration seem to have the greatest influence on our feelings.

In recent years, short, intense workouts like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) have gotten a lot of attention because their quick duration makes them ideal for busy urbanites. Many people who do HIIT workouts report being pleased by how short the exercises are, but they often also say that the intensity is not fun for them, which might discourage them from continuing in the long run.

That realization might explain why another recent study shows that walking outside in natural environments provided additive benefits for mood, suggesting that long, brisk outdoor walks might be the answer for those who have tried brief, intense workouts at home or a gym and disliked them.

Given the immense joy and benefits that come with spending time outdoors, it’s no wonder that doctors around the world have begun prescribing time in nature as a way of improving their patients’ health!

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