It’s a challenging time of year for those of us living in the snowbound regions of North America. Cold temperatures limit outdoor activity to quick spurts broken up by the need to get warm and sunshine can be hard to come by. Ground hogs are disrupted from their morning naps every Feb. 2 to see if warmer days will be welcomed back sooner rather than later. We yearn for the return of leafy trees, green grass, and less slippery walkways. Science has taken an interest in just what we gain from exposure to nature, and it seems there is more to it than simply wishing winter a glad farewell. Though we may consider it common sense that people feel better when they get outdoors, breathe fresh air, and spend time in green spaces filled with grass and trees, there is a growing body of literature to back it up.
According to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation spending time in forests makes us healthier. The noted benefits include: boosts immunity, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and improves mood, helps with focus and concentration, increases energy, and improves sleep. “Recognizing those benefits, in 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries even coined a term for it: shinrin-yoku. It means taking in the forest atmosphere or "forest bathing," and the ministry encourages people to visit forests to relieve stress and improve health”. It seems they are onto something important here. Rx: Forest time.
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