Tag Archives: outdoors

Time Outside May Benefit Health – Study

According to a recent British study published in the journal Scientific Reports, spending at least two hours a week outside may be good for one’s health. Nearly 20,000 English people were asked how many hours they spent in natural environments like parks, forests, and beaches in the last seven days; whether they considered their health to be good or poor; and if they felt their well-being was high or low. Those reporting nature contact of at least two hours per week were significantly more likely to report ‘good’ health and ‘high’ well-being compared to those reporting zero. (No additional benefit was seen from spending over 3.5 to 5 hours in nature.)

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I shot this on a bike ride earlier this week. I love the reflections of the lights on Lake Michigan

While this association was seen even in people who did not meet current physical activity guidelines, the authors were unable to fully untangle time spent outside from time spent being active. It is possible that healthier, happier people are simply more likely to spend more time in nature or live in areas with more open space, but the association was seen even for those with long-term illness or disability. In this study, even people who needed to travel outside of their neighborhoods to reach a park or other natural area benefited from regularly spending time in nature.

As regular readers know, I am a nature lover. Here are a couple of my posts on being outside:

Urban greenspace boosts mental health

Tips on enjoying the outdoors safely

Benefits of exercising outdoors

Tony

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Filed under exercise outdoors, good health, happiness, nature, outdoors, Uncategorized

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

5 Yoga poses you can do anywhere – Infographic

I am not much of a health club person. They just make me feel like I am in prison, breathing stale air with a bunch of other inmates. One of the things I love about yoga is that you don’t have to go any place special to do it and it works wonderfully in the great outdoors or your living room floor.

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To read more on yoga, check out these posts:

Why should I do yoga?

8 Benefits of yoga – Infographic

What are two good yoga stretches for cyclists?

Yoga for arthritis; yoga for seniors

Are there immediate benefits to doing yoga?

Tony

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What is Nature-Deficit Disorder?

What are we talking about here? Wikipedia says Nature-Deficit Disorder refers to a hypothesis by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems. This disorder is not recognized in any of the medical manuals for mental disorders.

I confess that on first blush this term sounded kind of tree-hugging and politically-correct to me. Don’t we have enough important things to concern us without worrying about being out in nature?

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While this being nature deprived is usually applied to children, it doesn’t have to be. I am indebted to Kelly, The Spunky Caregiver, for introducing me to the concept in the first place.

Kelly mentioned it regarding care giving for seniors. She wrote, “Getting outside alleviates our stress and can literally change the mental state we are in. I have personally seen this in caring for seniors with moderate to advanced dementia. Having trees, gardens, horses and walking trails around, is like heaven after being inside. They begin to remember stories, smile more and connect. I have also seen it in rehab patients, how it inspires and elevates their optimism for recovery. For me personally, I need to get outside to feel alive in my body and the thought of being inside for days is painful. I love the sun and the trees and the air. Taking the seniors outside is a serious paid benefit!” Continue reading

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Filed under aging, appreciation, biking, blood pressure, brain, calories, cardio exercise, cold weather, dementia, depression, Exercise, fat kids, healthy living, men's health, walking, Weight

New Year’s Resolutions, er, Revolutions

Getting through December in a four season climate like Chicago is a dicey experience for a guy who wants to ride his bike every day. You just don’t know what the weatherman will be serving up on any given day.

December usually has some of the most bizarre offerings, unfortunately. However, this year was one for the record books. No snowfall of an inch or more since March. This was the third most snow free season on record with 0.9 inch the lowest since 1939. The year 2012 was the warmest in Chicago’s 142 year observational record dating back to 1871.

Easily mistaken for Tony, this is an ad from J2 Studios. That' one hot set of wheels.

Easily mistaken for Tony, this hot-looking guy is from Shawn Jantzen’s J2 Studios. One hot set of wheels.

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I just finished adding up my bike riding for the year and it comes to, wait for it … 8,433 miles. I don’t know if you are impressed, but I am. This mellow December has been most helpful in my biking. Normally, we have snow and really difficult weather for riding at all, let alone virtually every day. This year, as you can see from the first paragraph – warmer and less snow. I bought a new car on February 25. I have driven it 4200 miles.

This cycling total is most gratifying to me because last year I rode 6,300 and thought I had begun to slow down due to my age. In 2010, the prior year, my total was 7,111 which was the most I had ever ridden. I was not surprised when I slid back the following year.

The 8,433 miles comes to a daily average – 366 days in 2012 – of 23.04 miles. A 23 mile ride lasts around two hours and burns about 1000 calories, thus expanding my gustatory horizons for the remainder of the day. It also works my heart and lungs and pumps up fresh oxygen to my brain creating new neurotransmitters.
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Filed under 2012 in review, aging, biking, calories, cardio exercise, cold weather, Exercise, happiness, heart, heart rate, men's health, seniors, Weight, winter

Bike Riding in Snow’s No Fun

Chicago has just gone 307 consecutive days without a one inch snowfall. That is the longest such spell in 54 years. And, might I add, most welcome to me as a bicycle rider. Because of this snow drought, I have been able to ride many more times in these waning days of December than I would normally. As a result, I will post my biggest total mileage for a  year in my life in just three more days – over 8000 miles.

Looking west on Chicago's Riverwalk

The view looking west on Chicago’s Riverwalk with skyline in the distance

As you can see from the photos, the snow looked kind of pretty falling on the Riverwalk. However, look closely at the second photo taken on the next morning. Those patches of gray and white are ice patches and diabolical for a bicyclist.

The view looking east on the following morning

Looking east on the following morning

A sheet of ice is very simple to navigate, you just get off the bike and walk it till you are past the ice. But, sporadic ice patches are a totally different story. When I ride, I try to keep my heart rate in the target zone. For a septuagenarian like myself that requires a speed of around 12 miles an hour. Doesn’t sound very fast when you imagine yourself in your car inching along at 12 mph. On a bike, though, you are traveling at about 17 feet per second. And you aren’t strapped in to a cushy seat. You have a helmet and you are flying through the air riding a pair of skinny wheels. As the guy who has fallen at that speed and broken bones, I can attest that it is fast enough to get into trouble.
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Filed under aging, biking, Exercise, heart rate, seniors, target zone, treadmills, Weight, winter

Thanksgiving – Giving Thanks

thanks·giv·ing noun \thaŋ(k)s-ˈgi-viŋ also ˈthaŋ(k)s-ˌ\
1: the act of giving thanks 2: a prayer expressing gratitude (Merriam Webster)

The Thanksgiving Holiday tomorrow is uniquely American. Other countries have a similar celebration but not on the fourth Thursday of November.

I like Thanksgiving and wanted to start my celebration of it here on the blog.

I was riding my bicycle this morning and some of the things I have to be thankful for began rolling through my head and I wanted to share them with you.

This is a rare view of the Chicago skyline from behind the Adler Planetarium.

The thing I am most grateful for is my current state of superb health. I retired 12 years ago and think I currently enjoy the best health of my entire life. I can’t run as fast or jump as high as I did in my 20’s and 30’s but my general health, mental and physical, is the best ever. One of the main reasons for that wonderful health is co-writing this blog. And for that I am deeply grateful to John for suggesting we write a blog on diet and good health back in March of 2010. It’s funny how the blog has worked for me. It brought a health-oriented focus to my mind that has not wavered in nearly three years. So thanks, John, much appreciated.

Once we started writing the blog, I signed up for various courses from The Great Courses (formerly The Teaching Company). Three of the most valuable were Nutrition Made Clear, taught by Professor Roberta Anding, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at any Age, by Dr. Anthony Goodman, Montana State University and Cornell Medical College and Stress and Your Body by Professor Robert Sapolsky, a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant recipient, Stanford University.

As you can see from their titles, information flowed from them through me to the blog. They added breadth and scope to our efforts.

What I learned from them has helped to reshape my life in the last three years as I put their lessons into daily practice.

Because of my good health, as a senior citizen, I daily have the blessing of being able to ride my bike and enjoy it with the same pleasure I did as a child. I mostly ride along Chicago’s beautiful lakefront. You can see one of the photos  from my ride today above. I also write a blog on my own called WillingWheeling which has the singular focus of the beautiful elements in my life. Feel free to take a look.

I shot the skyline of Chicago to share with you a view that very few people who actually live here ever see. It is from the eastern-most point behind the Adler Planetarium. Few Chicagoans even know there is anything behind that building. I ride my bike there often.

I am also grateful for this November to remember weather we are experiencing. Temperatures have been more than 10 degrees above normal this week. The 50 and 60 degree F temps are ideal cycling weather. I pedaled over 40 miles in today’s balmy air. Some call this Indian Summer.

My daughter and myself at her fashion show for the Wounded Warriors.

I am also grateful for my beautiful daughter, Kate, who has just been accepted into a university and offered a four year scholarship. I am very proud of her. The photo of us was taken at a fashion show she produced which raised several thousand dollars for the Wounded Warriors.

Last but not least, I am grateful for my little canine companion, Gabi, who I adopted six years ago and who makes me laugh every day of my life. I wrote the strange story of my adoption of her here.
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Filed under aging, biking, brain, Exercise, general well-being, happiness, healthy eating, men and healthy eating, men's health, stress, Weight