As regular readers of this blog have undoubtedly noticed, I spend a fair amount of words extolling the benefits of taking exercise outdoors. Regular readers will also recall I love citing research that supports my theories, so it gives me great pleasure to pass along a brand new study: Green exercise may be good for your head. A new study finds that surprisingly small doses of outdoor activity boost mood, self-esteem.
“It turns out that even small doses of outdoor exercise can have remarkable effects on mental health, report Jules Pretty and Jo Barton of the University of Essex (U.K.) in this month’s issue of ES&T (Environ. Sci. Technol. DOI 10.1021/es903183r). In a meta-analysis of 10 studies, they found that getting outside—and moving—for as little as five minutes at a time improved both mood and self-esteem. Exercise near a body of water had the biggest effect.”
Obviously, none of this is news to me. I particularly like the last part of the summary – outside near water is best!
This all makes sense since the reason I made the decision 24 years ago to relocate to the Adirondacks involves considerations much larger and more important than big mountains, skiing and breathtaking views. I believe spending time outdoors and living close to nature and natural cycles helps create a wholesome and healthy life. I find it easy to be outdoors and live close to nature in the Adirondacks, and thus I feel better.
I am not alone in this knowledge. Not surprisingly, the Adirondack Mountains have a historical connection to healing and wellness. Like the spa regions of Europe, people have flocked to the Adirondacks for centuries, drawn by the renowned healing properties of the fresh mountain air and clear, clean water.
There are many additional studies one could cite to make this point. In a “forest kindergarten” class for example, in Saratoga Springs, New York, just south of the Adirondack Park, pupils spend three hours a day outside. The children ages, 3 ½ to 6, are outside, rain or shine, every day! That sounds reasonable to me. My son spent at least three hours a day outside growing up in the Adirondacks. He was a happy kid and he slept well. Oh yes, here is another study that provides the obvious answer to the question, “Does Exercise Help You Sleep?” You’ll find more data in today’s links to my earlier blog posts.
I don’t, however, understand why one would need a study to tell them it feels good to be outdoors. But if you remain unconvinced, go ahead and read all those studies, and then, Get Outside!
Yesterday evening’s view from home photograph courtesy of Joann Sandone Reed. Note the still fuzzy leaves on the trees, a reminder of another the equally renowned characteristic of the Adirondacks; an excruciatingly slow embrace of spring.