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What are the benefits of a nature walk?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Surrounding yourself with natural beauty can actually increase immune function. In a Japanese study, 280 people undertook a popular practice called “forest bathing” (shinrin-yoku), which involves merely a short, leisurely visit to a forest. Compared to controls, these forest-goers had lower levels of cortisol, lower pulse rates, and lower blood pressure. Consider taking a trip to a state park, going for a hike, visiting a botanical garden, or simply going for a nice leisurely stroll on a very lush street in your own neighborhood.
This content originally appeared on doctoroz.com

Nature can be extremely therapeutic. You’re outside, where you can literally take in a breath of fresh air. It’s true that the air is more toxic indoors than out, even if you live in a city like Los Angeles or New York. Indoor pollutants are silent and invisible. They come from your electronics, furniture, carpets, paints, heating and air conditioning units. Getting outside is one of the best things you can do to lessen your exposure to pollutants and the very elements that trigger free radicals. And just taking a long walk in the comforts of your neighborhood or by work will suffice. I guarantee it will be rewarding in more ways than one.

Here’s one walk you might want to try. Step outside and leave your stresses—and your iPod—behind this time. Take in the details of your surroundings—the buzzing traffic or the birds, the curvature of plants and tress, the precise color of the sky and the shape of moving clouds. These are the details we rarely appreciate in daily living. You will find yourself becoming hyperaware and in the moment, and then I want you to think about what you are exceptionally thankful for in your life. It can be general or specific: your health, your family, your experiences at work, your life partner, your children, your last birthday party, and so on. Let your mind and memory run free. When you become very present like this, you start to think in a whole new light and connect in ways you never imagined. You also begin to get inspired, thinking more broadly rather than focusing on your own inner world and those trivial frustrations. This is a great way to beat down stress while at the same time appreciate where you are right now. It’s especially helpful for those who fit the stress-depressed model. When you are done with your walk, take five minutes to write down some of your revelations in a journal.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

Any walk is better than no walk. Whether walking on a nature trail or not, here are benefits of both:

  • Increased self-esteem
  • Increased energy
  • Increased stamina and endurance
  • Stronger heart and lungs
  • A time to relax

A nature walk will also give you more peace and quiet. Very rarely would you find yourself in nature and have to deal with traffic and external noises. The only noises you may hear would be birds chirping, water running from a stream, or the sound of your breath. Walking with nature is very relaxing and well worth a daily trip, if possible.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.