by Blake Herzog
It’s getting warmer outside, so if you haven’t been already it’s time to think about how to start routing your life into the out-of-doors by any means possible. You’ll get healthier and happier as you enjoy the beauty of our mountain setting.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Americans spend an average of 93% of their lives indoors, including 7% in vehicles. That figure might be a bit lower in Greater Prescott with all of its great opportunities for outside time, but there’s always room for improvement.
Research has found walking in wooded areas tugs blood pressure down…
Whether you’re up for hiking the Dells or relaxing on a bench in Courthouse Plaza or in your backyard, studies have shown that simply being outside is good for your mental and physical health.
Japanese scientists have developed the practice of “forest bathing,” which threads mindfulness and meditation into a walk in the woods and has begun to get a foothold in northern Arizona’s forested areas.
Research has found walking in wooded areas tugs blood pressure down, a result of reduced stress and a net gain for heart health. Even sitting or walking in an urban forested area for 15 to 30 minutes brings cardiovascular benefits.
The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension recommends scheduling one or two hours total per week for walking or sitting in a forested area or other relaxed, natural setting. However, avoid going out in extreme cold or heat that would make it a stressful experience, or when air quality is low.
Dive into open space
But forests aren’t required; just get outdoors. You’re more likely to exercise longer outside than you would inside, whatever your choice of workout is. Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, is best absorbed from sunlight, though you should wear sunscreen for any outings longer than 15 minutes or so.
Research has also linked getting out under the sky to better mood, brain function and memory, less pain, stronger immune system and increased energy. Many of these studies were small, but that’s no reason not to get out!