A Prescription for Going Outside?
As humans in the modern medical system, it is a matter of fact that we have all received some prescription for medication or a procedure at some point or another. But in a new study published in Nature, researchers examined the impact of going outside on health parameters. This is a new and exciting field of research and one that can potentially offer us some excellent health benefits.
We have known for some time that just the act of being outside and in nature conveys health benefits to improve cardiovascular health, diabetes, obesity, life expectancy, depression and anxiety. I’m sure many of us have experienced some of these or have friends or family who have as well. But the question has followed: how much time should we spend outside, and what qualifies? Does the walk from my office to my car count?
This new study determined that individuals who reported at least 2 hours per week outside consistently reported improved health and wellbeing. Interestingly, this doesn’t have to be consecutive! As long as you accumulate 120 minutes of outside-time per week, you will reap the benefits!
So then we must determine what “outside-time” actually qualifies. In this study, they discovered that the time outside cannot be counted near the home, and should be in a greenspace, forest, farm or woodland, hills or rivers. No the back yard doesn’t count!
Another interesting point – these benefits were in addition to any benefits achieved from exercise outdoors. This is where our runners can really get some improvements. As a runner, you can take time that you would already be using to train and take it outside to a trail or greenway and experience an improved health response. Just make sure you get 120 minutes total per week!
In summary, hop off the treadmill and go get into nature. You may just have less anxiety, improved health, and less stress!
1. White, M. P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J., Wheeler, B. W., Hartig, T., Warber, S. L., ... & Fleming, L. E. (2019). Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Scientific reports, 9(1), 7730.
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