Recent news from Environmental Science & Technology includes:
[quote]even small doses of outdoor exercise can have remarkable effects on mental health, report Jules Pretty and Jo Barton of the University of Essex (U.K.) in this issue of ES&T (Environ. Sci. Technol. DOI 10.1021/es903183r). In a meta-analysis of 10 studies, they found that getting outside—and moving—for as little as five minutes at a time improved both mood and self-esteem. Exercise near a body of water had the biggest effect.
“It shows that green exercise benefits pretty much everybody and that the effect sizes are pretty substantial,” says William C. Sullivan, the president of the Environmental Council at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who was not involved in the study.
the group has studied the effects of different types of green exercise on a variety of populations, from gardening by visitors to university farms to walking and sailing activities for young offender groups, as well as walking by members of urban flower shows. This new analysis reviewed 10 of these studies, which involved a total of 1252 participants. In each study, mood and self-esteem were measured using two widely accepted scales. All types of green exercise led to improvements in the mental health indicators. Most surprising to the researchers was that the strongest response was seen almost immediately.
“You get a very substantial benefit from the first five minutes. We should be encouraging people in busy and stressed environments to get outside regularly, even for short bits of time,” says Pretty. After that, increased green exercise continues to add benefit, but with decreasing returns. However, a full day of activity causes another spike in the level of benefit. Both healthy people and those with mental health disorders benefited, with the mentally ill showing the strongest improvement in self-esteem.[/quote]
Green exercise may be good for your head
A new study finds that surprisingly small doses of outdoor activity boost mood, self-esteem.
From a related article:
[quote]By chance, a small hospital in Pennsylvania became the setting of a remarkable experiment. Scientist Roger Ulrich noticed some surgery patients recovered in a room with a view of leafy trees, while others recovered in an identical room, except its windows faced a brick wall.
Ulrich decided to test whether the view made any difference in the outcome for patients. He looked back at records on gall bladder surgery over a period of 10 years. The results proved enlightening.
Patients with the tree view were able to leave the hospital about a day earlier than those with a wall view, the study revealed. Patients with trees in sight also requested significantly less pain medication and reported fewer problems to nurses than wall-view patients. Contact with nature, even as limited as a view through a window, enhanced recovery from illness.
Researchers have learned much about the restorative effects of nature since Ulrich's landmark study appeared in 1984. Studies repeatedly have shown that contact with nature can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, relieve stress, sharpen mental states and, among children with attention and conduct disorders, improve behavior and learning. Regardless of cultural background, people consistently prefer natural settings over man-made environments.
"We know that exposure to natural environments has clearly beneficial physiological effects," says Portland psychologist Thomas Joseph Doherty.
Doherty says that part of the answer supplied by ecopsychology is to validate that an emotional connection to nature is normal and healthy. Doing so will help the environmental movement be more effective, he says, by appealing to positive ecological bonds rather than promoting conservation based on messages of fear or shame.[/quote]
The best natural healer turns out to be nature