It’s true what they say: the great outdoors can actually make you healthier. People who visit parks for 30 minutes or more each week are less likely to have high blood pressure or poor mental health than those who don’t, according to new research.
Recent research by the University of Queensland suggests people would benefit from having a minimum ‘dose of nature’. The lead researcher Dr Danielle Shanahan said parks offered health benefits including, reduced risks of developing heart disease, stress, anxiety and depression.
“If everyone visited their local parks for half an hour each week there would be seven per cent fewer cases of depression and nine percent fewer cases of high blood pressure.”
For the study, researchers analysed data from 1,538 residents of Brisbane City, Australia. Researchers discovered that people who made long visits to green spaces had lower rates of depression and high blood pressure, and those who visited more frequently had greater social cohesion. Besides from depression and high blood pressure, frequent visits in green spaces may also prevent heart disease, anxiety and stress.
Embrace the great outdoors
Swap the gym for training outdoors and take advantage of your local community park or green space. The fresh air will give you an extra boost and the varying scenery will keep you exercising for longer. Outdoor gyms are becoming more popular in bigger parks and are free to use. They’ll allow you to switch up your regime and give your whole body a workout without ever having to step foot indoors.
Gardening exercises your mind as well as your body. It utilises a number of our brain functions including, learning, problem solving and sensory awareness and keeping our minds active. Research has also shown that there are benefits of therapeutic gardens for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s, too. A study, published in the Psychiatry Investigation, said the benefits of horticultural therapy included a reduction of pain, improvement in attention, lessening of stress and a reduction in falls.
Go for a walk
Walking has an array of health benefits. Not only do you get your fix of vitamin D(providing it’s sunny), which helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, it’s by far the simplest yet most underrated exercise. Anyone can do it, at any age, with any fitness level. It releases serotonin and endorphins in the body that give a natural high and act as natural painkillers.