Nature Does the Mind and Body Good

Posted on: January 31, 2018

You know how there is something special about the ocean, a forest, the open prairie, mountains, or rocky desert that captivates us? These places can make you feel small and insignificant in the immense realm of life – but also create a calm energy that can motivate and make you feel alive. That is nature: simple and complex, raging and peaceful, otherworldly yet part of us.

Spending time outside is good for you. Search the internet for the “health benefits of nature” and you’ll be inundated with study after study that verifies the scientific proof. Time in a green space can ease anxiety, lessen depression, enhance cognitive abilities, and improve mood. Once outdoors, you are typically more active. Walking, running, biking, gardening, playing sports, doing yard work all contribute to a healthier lifestyle that can combat obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure and stroke that often accompany a sedentary way of life.

Time spent in your backyard or walking around the neighborhood is a vast improvement over a couch or office chair. But time immersed in a natural setting, where everything in your scope of vision is natural, not human-made, is even more beneficial. That escape element does the body good. It doesn’t have to be a trip to Lake Michigan or the north woods of Wisconsin; it can be a ten minute car ride to a local natural area like Churchill Park.

WHAT CAN YOU DO: Encourage yourself and your family to get outside, even 15 minutes a day. Bundle up this winter and search for animal tracks in the yard or around the neighborhood after a fresh snowfall. Putter around the yard this spring and take notice of when the first plants start emerging. If you can sneak away for a few hours, it will be time well spent. You may not be able to measure the results, but most likely you’ll feel better. As with making exercise part of your routine, make time for a daily dose of nature. Unplug; walk out the door, recharge, and flourish like the plants that can help sustain us.

WHAT WE DO: Parks in urban communities offer an important public health benefit and serve a critical role in providing healthy habitats for wildlife and plants for use by future generations. The Glen Ellyn Park District actively manages 29 parks and 260-acres of open space where our residents have room to run, play, and explore the outdoors. The District also offers a number of activities each season with opportunities get outside such as our free Guided Nature Walks, Preschool Nature Outings, family hikes, nature camps, and monthly ecological restoration days.

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