As a good old nature-loving Dorset boy, I spend as much time as I can communing with nature and marvelling at the ecosystem which we can easily fail to appreciate in our ready-meal, everything-always-in-season lifestyles.
Breathing in the clean air of the New Forest is something I do most days, and swimming or surfing amongst the more bracing elements of the 100 miles of Dorset coast is an essential ingredient of my quality of life – particularly after my cancer specialists told me of the vital need to fill my body with plenty of clean oxygen.
You breathe in oxygen, and its energy is then coupled with a complex molecule called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a little powerhouse molecule that transfers high-energy bonds from nutrients into the energy needed to run our bodies.
But don’t just take my word for it. Other than helping to replenish your body’s engine, there’s much scientific evidence to suggest that being one with nature encourages relaxed, harmonious feelings and wellbeing in us all.
According to researchers from the University of Essex, just five minutes of fresh air and ‘green exercise’ makes a huge difference in mood and self-esteem, even greater by open water. The researchers analysed data from 10 separate studies and looked at nature activities such as walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming. The largest positive effect on self-esteem came from a five-minute dose, concluding “For the first time in the scientific literature, we have been able to show dose-response relationships for the positive effects of nature on human mental health,“. Read more here: www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/news/go-green-to-beat-the-blues/#.WZ7xlmiQxEI
Researchers in Scotland used portable EEGs to monitor the brain activity of study participants who strolled through different urban environments in Edinburgh. When they walked through the busy urban areas, their brain wave patterns consistently showed that they were more aroused and frustrated than when they walked through the parkland, where brain-wave readings became more meditative. Read more here: New York Times.
A long-term study by the University of Exeter revealed that people living in urban areas with greater amounts of green space were happier than those who didn’t. The researchers analyzed data from 5,000 UK households (around 12,000 individuals) and found that people are happier when living in urban areas with greater amounts of green space (they followed people who moved closer and away from green spaces and noted the changes). When compared to living in areas with less green space, the study participants show significantly lower mental distress and significantly higher wellbeing and life satisfaction. Read more here: The effect of urban green spaces on wellbeing is comparable to employment and marriage
‘Shinrin-yoku’ is a Japanese term which means ‘forest-bathing’ – taking time to walk in the woods. Japanese scientists have established that forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than urban environments.
To prove the point, a group of middle-aged Tokyo businessmen were taken to hike in the woods for three days. By the end of the trip, blood tests showed that their Natural Killer or NK cells (a type of white blood cell and a component of innate immune system which play a major role in the host-rejection of both tumours and virally infected cells) had increased 40 percent. A month later, their NK count was still 15 percent higher than when they started. Even a one day walk in a suburban park boosted the levels of both NK cells and anticancer proteins for at least seven days afterward. During urban walking trips, NK levels didn’t alter at all.
So convinced are they of the benefits, that Japan has upwards of 50 official Forest Therapy trails, designated for shinrin-yoku by Japan’s Forestry Agency.
So please remember to take time out of your schedule to always smell the roses (and I don’t mean in the supermarket). And remember to pass it on to those you care for.
I would love the opportunity to support you in designing and building the most fulfilled and happiest life you could wish for. That’s why I have devised the Improve Your Life Now! programme which is full of tools such as 14 days of FREE video coaching, a FREE workbook and goals chart, all geared towards choosing the life you deserve. All details are on my website www.paulstalker.com
Love The Day.
Paul Stalkie Stalker
The Mindset Man