Enjoy A Healthy Boost By Sitting On Park Benches Or Walking In The Great Outdoors

park benches at dusk

Get outside and spend some time going for walks or relaxing on park benches. Researchers have documented several ways nature is good for your health.

Can sitting outside on park benches make you healthier?

Can standing under a tree make you happier?

Can walking in the woods calm you down?

Are you looking to have more energy, less stress, better focus, and greater immunity paired with faster recovery times?

You may think it would take a miracle medicine to accomplish all of that in one setting.

But it turns out that there is a simple supplement that produces all of these benefits – spending time in nature.

Whether you live close to the ocean, mountains, or forests – or just a greenspace lined with park benches – you can tap into the power that nature has to restore and rejuvenate your health and energy.

Here are the facts on why nature is so good for your health and how some states and doctors are partnering together to fill park benches and improve access to state parks across the country.

What the facts show about nature’s effect on human health

Many studies have been done that examine the effect that nature has on our overall health and well-being. The findings all point to the same conclusion: We need to spend time outdoors for maximum health and happiness.

Here are some of the highlights that can inspire you to get up off the couch and find your closest nature path or park bench.

  • Trees release chemicals that boost our immune system. To protect themselves against insects, trees release phytoncides into the air. When we spend time sitting on a park bench under a tree, for example, we breathe in these chemicals.

But don’t worry – unlike harsh chemicals that are a product of manmade engineering, these naturally-occurring chemicals are good for our health. They naturally boost the body’s production of a specific type of white blood cell that fights off cells affected by tumors and viruses.

  • Trees and light boost our mood. Researchers have found that the stress hormones of cortisol and adrenaline are significantly decreased when humans spend time around trees. Tree gazing also lowers blood pressure. Increased natural light also has been shown to boost mood. You’ll likely find more light outside than you will within the walls of your office or home.

So if you’re feeling stressed by a bad day at work or need a break from a hectic schedule, take a tree break and let your adrenaline and cortisol dissipate. You’ll feel better and have a more positive frame of mind when you return to tackle your problems.

  • Being outside restores focus. Have you ever felt like you’re hitting a mental roadblock in completing a big project, finishing a task at home, or solving a difficult problem? It could be that your brain is fatigued and needs a recharge from the great outdoors.

Our brains can suffer from Directed Attention Fatigue – meaning that we run out of energy due to all the demands for our brainpower. Our everyday environments tend to barrage our senses and require constant focus and filtering.

Being outside, however, provides our brains a chance to recover and nature passively catches our attention – rather than demand it. This can restore our focus and willpower, and help you to accomplish more in the long run with renewed efficiency and determination.

park benches by pond

Trees actually release chemicals that boost production of different types of blood cells.

Find some park benches and get fresh air – doctor’s orders!

In several states across the country, state parks and care providers are joining forces to help patients experience the restorative and healing powers of nature.

Various forms of “Park Prescription” programs have been implemented that encourage people to spend time hiking a local trail, sitting on park benches, or enjoying a picnic in nearby state parks.

For instance, in South Dakota, the Department of Health and the Game, Fish, and Parks commission have partnered with doctors to offer patients a day of free admission to any of the state’s parks or recreation areas. The park prescription is issued on a small piece of paper with ‘Rx’ in the corner and the instructions to spend a day in nature with waived park admission fees.

South Dakota isn’t the only state making a push to help patients experience improved health through time spent outdoors. Vermont, New Mexico, and Maryland all have experimented with variations of a park prescription program.

Ideas for your own park Rx

Don’t think you need to wait for your doctor to tell you that some fresh air would be good for you. After reviewing the benefits of getting outside, you may already be heading for the door.

Here are a few ways to spend some time with nature:

Take the dog, kids, or just yourself for a walk. It sounds simple enough, but regularly walking around the block, to the store, or to a nearby park will have a positive impact. Make it part of your daily routine. It’s not about how far you go in the beginning – it’s just about getting started.

Park it on a bench. If you’re limited in strength, mobility, or energy, just finding quiet spots on park benches can be restorative. Spend time studying the trees (remember: this lowers adrenaline, cortisol, and blood pressure), watching the animals, or daydreaming. The point is to give yourself time to breathe in the fresh air, so don’t feel like you have to expend a lot of energy to reap the benefits.

Go for a bike ride. If you are looking for a more active way to get your dose of nature, grab a bicycle and pedal your way to better health. The exercise will only further boost the health benefits of being outside.

Make a day of it. If you have at least a few hours – or the entire day – make a trip out of exploring a park or botanical garden you’ve never been to, or haven’t visited recently. Bring along a backpack with plenty of water, snacks, and a map of the trails.

Think of yourself as an explorer for the day and find the most captivating vantage point in the park or interesting wildlife to observe. Shoot some photos. Smell some flowers. You may be surprised at how rejuvenated you feel after this mini getaway.

Because of the power of the outdoors, any managers of restaurants, hotels, office buildings, etc., would be wise to create welcome outdoor spaces for customers and employees by adding commercial park benches or outdoor picnic tables.

The evidence is there. Ask most any doctor. The bottom line is that nature is good for us all. Make it your aim to get your daily dose of fresh air and regular “tree time.”

Whether it’s sitting on park benches in your local park, or a forest spanning miles, you’ll experience less stress, better moods, and improved well-being!


About theparkcatalog

This content was contributed by staff at The Park Catalog.

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