Ray and I spent the morning walking on the gravel trail at Fearrington Village, alongside a beautiful pond and gorgeous green, leafy trees. I found myself literally taken away with the beauty of the morning. Someone had left a few poems about nature on the little bridge and as I read them aloud, I realized I felt stress-free and relaxed, feeling not only the breezes of a summer day but an overwhelming emotion of simple gratitude.

When we returned home I came across research by the University of Exeter in England and published in Scientific Reports on June 13, 2019. They found that people who spend just two hours per week in a natural setting such as a park, woodlands, state parks, and beaches report better health and a greater sense of well-being than those who spent less than two hours in the same settings.

The good news is that the two hours can be spent at just 15 minutes a day, made up of shorter visits during the week. “Benefits do continue up to around 5 hours, where it starts to level out,” says the lead author of the study, Matthew White, PhD, a senior lecturer at the European Center for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter Medical School.

Previous research by Dr. White and published in Psychological Science stated that “on average, individuals have both lower mental distress and higher mental well-being when living in urban areas with more green space.”

The study from Exeter University included 20,000 participants and didn’t vary between genders, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, occupation or relative health. It even included those with long-term illnesses or disabilities. That made me think of my sister, who in her last months of life, loved to be outside, watching the birds and enjoying seeing the flowers in the nearby garden.

Dr. White included the following benefits:

  1. Less polluted air, so you are inhaling fewer particulates
  2. With 50% of the world experiencing vitamin D insufficiency, a simple walk outdoors can increase your vitamin D intake.
  3. Want lower blood pressure? According to shrinin-yoku( (forest bathing) published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in August, 2017, participants who spent time in forest environments had significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure than those who did not.
  4. For those of us who want to practice mindfulness ~ that and our mental health are improved.
  5. And do not forget the exercise we often experience when outdoors.

I loved all of this research as it reinforced the powerful feelings I was having while experiencing my simple walk this morning. Lowering my blood pressure is always a goal as well. And just 15 minutes a day to experience such benefits is amazing. What about you? Can you pull yourself away from that computer (or in Ray’s case that TV) to help build health? I think I will go for a walk!

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