Friday, July 26, 2019

Prescribing Time Outdoors

Outside Mag – "The Nature Club – Inside the Health Revolution That Could Change Your Life"

"For health care providers, there are two reasons to prescribe nature. The first has to do with what it may do for us. Exposure to nonthreatening natural stimuli, scientists have discovered, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress-hormone levels, promotes physical healing, bolsters immune-system function, raises self-esteem, improves mood, curtails the need for painkillers, and reduces inflammation. One leading theory is that these stimuli—the scent of plants, the sight of trees swaying in the breeze, the sounds of birds, streams, and rustling leaves—combine to activate the unconsciously controlled “rest and digest” functions of our bodies, which are regulated by our parasympathetic nervous system. These functions are suppressed when a threatening stimulus, whether a venomous snake or an aggressive work e-mail, triggers our sympathetic “fight, flight, or freeze” system. If that response stays active long enough, our immune, digestive, reproductive, and psychological health suffers. In an increasingly urbanized world, in other words, nature cues our brains to shift us from a depleting to a restoring state. “The environment of our original adaptation is all outdoors,” says Chao-ying Wu, a pediatrician in Bellingham, Washington. “It just makes sense.”"

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