Category Archives: nature

Urban green space boosts mental health – Study

For the record, I pretty much live in downtown Chicago. I am a city guy and love the fact that I have access to everything a great city has to offer. Within a mile of my apartment, I have dozens of restaurants of every kind, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Public Library for starters. In the evening, there is the Chicago Symphony, the Lyric Opera and tons of smaller, but very professional theater groups. Those are some of the high points of living in a major metropolitan area. Nonetheless, despite this uber-urban environment, my favorite aspects of where I live are Lake Michigan over which I get sunrises every morning, along this lakefront lie a bike path stretching for miles. In addition, there is also the wonderful nature scene along the shore where rabbits, squirrels, ducks, geese and other wild life flourish. I carry nuts and seeds on the bike when I ride so I can feed the sparrows, ducks and squirrels.

I truly believe I have the best of both worlds – an urban environment as well as the beauty of nature – here.

body of water between green leaf trees

Photo by Ian Turnell on Pexels.com

So, I was very happy to read about how urban green space relates positively to mental health in a study from Australia. Continue reading

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Filed under Exercise, exercise benefits, exercise outdoors, green space, nature, outdoors

Enjoying the outdoors safely …

I have written time and again about the benefits of exercising and doing it outdoors. When I visit a a health club I feel like a prisoner. Of course, I live on the shores of Lake Michigan with the wonderful Chicago lakefront outside my door. So, in that regard, the outdoors is an integral part of my life. But, for those of you who are in town, or in the burbs, there is some preparation necessary to enjoy nature in a safe way.

If you’re heading for the great outdoors, be sure to bring along some common sense.

That’s the best way to reduce the chances that a bite, sting, cut, scrape, burn, blister, rash, sprain, strain, more serious injury or other mishap will spoil your outdoor adventure.

“Knowing your limits, not trying to do too much, knowing where you’re going and what you might encounter there and being aware of the environment you’re in are the best ways to avoid problems outdoors,” said Henderson McGinnis, M.D., an associate professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, medical director of its AirCare emergency transport service, a recognized expert in wilderness medicine and an experienced outdoorsman.

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I shot this on a recent bike ride.

“Doing a little preparation before you go and being sensible while you’re out there can make all the difference.”

That advice applies to veteran hikers, bikers, campers, climbers and paddlers, but it’s essential for people with no or limited outdoors experience. And there are lots of them these days.

That’s because Americans in general and children in particular simply don’t spend as much time outside as they once did. Consequently, overall familiarity with nature just ain’t what it used to be.

This byproduct of our high-tech, indoor-oriented society even has a name: nature-deficit disorder. Continue reading

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Sounds of nature help us to relax – Study

I am a great believer in enjoying the outdoors. I ride my bike outdoors instead of opting for the exercise bike at the health club. Ditto, walking. I walk a lot outside rather than on the treadmill. So, I was very happy to run across this study from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS).

The gentle burbling of a brook, or the sound of the wind in the trees can physically change our mind and bodily systems, helping us to relax. New research explains how, for the first time.

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Researchers at BSMS found that playing ‘natural sounds’ affected the bodily systems that control the flight-or-fright and rest-digest autonomic nervous systems, with associated effects in the resting activity of the brain. While naturalistic sounds and ‘green’ environments have frequently been linked with promoting relaxation and well being, until now there has been no scientific consensus as to how these effects come about. The study has been published in Scientific Reports. Continue reading

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The Best TV Show To Feel Joy, Amazement And Awe

This is so nice to learn, both on its own and in connection with nature itself for me. As I have written more than once one of my great pleasures riding my bike on the Chicago Lakefront is being out in nature.

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This was a sunrise I witnessed not long ago.

Tony

Our Better Health

The study compared TV show genres to see which makes people happiest.

Watching nature documentaries — like being out in nature itself — can help you feel happier.

The survey of 7,500 people around the world found they felt happier after viewing clips from BBC nature documentaries.

The study compared watching the documentary to the news or a popular drama show.

People reported that after viewing the nature documentary they felt more:

  • joy,
  • amazement,
  • awe,
  • and curiosity.

At the same time it reduced feelings of anger, tiredness and stress.

Professor Dacher Keltner, who teamed up with the BBC for the study, said:

“I have long believed that nature and viewing sublime and beautiful nature in painting, film and video shifts how we look at the world, and humbles us, brings into focus our core goals, diminishes the petty voice of the self and strengthens our nervous system.
When the BBC…

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More Exposure to Vegetation Linked with Lower Mortality in Women

I don’t know if that headline surprises you, but it doesn’t surprise me. As a daily bicycle rider, I get to enjoy the outdoors regularly and know that the setting benefits me as much as pedaling the bike.

Women in the U.S. who live in homes surrounded by more vegetation appear to have significantly lower mortality rates than those who live in areas with less vegetation, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The study found that women who lived in the greenest surroundings had a 12% lower overall mortality rate than those living in homes in the least green areas.

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The study suggests several mechanisms that might be at play in the link between greenness and mortality. Improved mental health, measured through lower levels of depression, was estimated to explain nearly 30% of the benefit from living around greater vegetation. Increased opportunities for social engagement, higher physical activity, and lower exposure to air pollution may also play an important role, the authors said.

The study was published online April 14, 2016 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The paper is available here.

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