I love this video, “Nature Rx,” a spoof on prescription drug commercials. In it, the announcer asserts: “Nature Rx offers a hearty dose of laughs and the outdoors — two timeless prescriptions for whatever ails you. Side effects may include confidence, authenticity, remembering you have a body, and being in a good mood for no apparent reason.”
This tongue-in-cheek video is based on fact: New research conducted by Mary Carol Hunter at the University of Michigan has found that just 10 minutes of exposure to nature — two to three times a week — produces positive mental health benefits.
Participants in the study reported having less stress, a better ability to focus and increased satisfaction with their mood and energy levels. And getting a dose of nature doesn’t mean hiking into the deep backwoods of New Hampshire: The study found that you can get a good nature “pill” in a park or even your backyard.
This research is catching up with what the Japanese have known for many years: In Japan, there is a popular practice called shinrinyoku or “forest bathing,” based on an intuitive sense — and backed by research — that time spent in nature reduces stress levels.
Japanese researchers found that people who commune with nature have decreased cortisol (stress hormone) levels, sympathetic nervous activity, blood pressure and heart rate— and an increase in levels of white blood cells that release anticancer proteins to attack tumors and cells infected by viruses, a benefit that stays with you for a month after the activity. See more:
A Tree Lined Path
We are lucky we live in a region of the country that affords us such easy access to nature. In the Monadnock region, there are plenty of parks and green spaces just a short walk away from even busy downtown Keene, (such as Ashuelot Park). Those who live in the surrounding towns, you probably are already well-familiar with trails and nature walks in your area.
Remember, it only takes 10 minutes, two or three times a week, to begin to feel the positive benefits of nature in your life. And if you have more time, go for it! Remember that there is no risk of overdosing on Nature Rx.
What will you do outside this week? Snap a photo and share it with us on social media! @Healthy Monadnock 2020 (Facebook) and @HMonadnock2020 (twitter). Enjoy!