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Wilderness Therapy

Can fresh air cure the blues? Does convening with nature lower the blood pressure? Are we actually better revitalized by exercising in a green space rather than a gym? 

The answer is yes, according to researchers at Peninsula College of Medicine in the UK.

And the upside of outdoor activity doesn’t end there. A whole host of health benefits including stress reduction, enhanced mood, boost in self esteem, superior attention and concentration, illness recovery, obesity and heart disease prevention can now be attributed to spending time in nature. And, what is more, people who exercise in nature are far more likely to continue their habits later in life than gym rats.

The UK isn’t just researching the benefits of “wilderness therapy”…they are producing myriad programs to encourage participation in outdoor activities, two examples being the Green Gym that brings people together to tend public gardens and create other green spaces and Blue Gym that creates opportunities for contact and interaction with seashores and lakes. 

Perhaps the most interesting revelation in this research is that outdoor activity pushes beyond health benefits of general exercise by providing “Opportunities for personal development and sense of purpose for adults….Spending time in a natural setting enables participants to access those aspects of their self that may elude them in more conventional personal development or therapeutic settings.”

So, living in an urban environment as many of us do, we need to make a concerted effort to stay connected with nature. Especially in the winter, we need to push ourselves to snag opportunities to ski, skate, snowtube, walk, hike, and otherwise play in the great outdoors lest we succumb to the harmful effects of a stagnant modern life, e.g. obesity, sluggishness, depression.

What will your wildness therapy be this winter?

 

Jan 26, 2012

by Sara

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