Science Wants You to Stop and Smell the Roses
THE BENEFITS OF SPENDING TIME OUTSIDE
In a 2008 survey conducted by the National Trust in
hyperactivity disorder symptoms were reduced after spending time in a green setting versus a more urban one. This may be due to the fact that natural environments call upon our “soft fascination,” a less exhausting type of focus than what is required by urban environments. Emotional benefits were discovered too, including reduced aggression, increased happiness, and improved self-esteem. Beyond just getting outside, the type of contact we have with nature also matters. Visits to nature centers and watching “Planet Earth” are two ways to experience the outdoors. But research points specifically to the importance of free play in the natural world: unstructured outdoor time when children can explore and engage with their natural surroundings with no curriculum, lesson, or activity to complete. Ever notice how kids are fascinated by the simplest things? A child visits a rose garden, but before they even get to the flowers, they become captivated by a leaf on the ground or an ant crawling on their shoe. Children are born naturalists. These are the moments we need to recapture. Take a page out of that kid’s book, and as the saying goes, stop and smell the roses — or leaves or ants — with no checklist and no plan, just time spent playing outside.
Britain, children were more likely to correctly identify a Dalek from
“Doctor Who” than a barn owl. Likewise, a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study of
8–18-year-olds in the U.S. found that the average youth spends more than 53 hours a week engaged with entertainment media. These statistics, coupled with growing concerns that children are spending less time outdoors, are leading to terms like “nature deficit disorder” and global initiatives to get kids outside. Why is contact with the outdoors so important? Researchers are answering this question by studying the benefits of time spent in nature. One benefit is that outdoor time helps kids understand boundaries and learn how to assess risk. As naturalist, author, and broadcaster Stephen Moss puts it, “Falling out of a tree is a very good lesson in risk- reward.” Not to mention, time in nature may help improve focus for hyperactive kids. In one national study of youths by the University of Illinois, participants’ attention deficit Having a Healthy Heart
The tips for keeping a healthy heart are easy to remember: Eat right, exercise, and don’t stress. But it can be hard to figure out how to best implement these steps and then keep up with them. If you simplify your tactics and approach them a little differently, they can become easier to do consistently. ACTIVITIES OVER WORKOUTS Adults should get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week for adequate heart health. Instead of forcing yourself to go to the gym and do a workout you’re not enthusiastic about, find different ways to exercise. Play outside with your kids, walk the dog, or take a stroll around the office with coworkers. It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes all at once — break it down into 10 minutes at a time to make it more manageable. FOLLOW FOOD RULES If you can memorize the basic rules to abide DOESN’T HAVE TO BE HARD
by when it comes to food, grocery shopping and cooking become easy.
1. Limit bad fat: Avoid saturated fat by switching to low-fat meat and dairy. 2. Cut the salt: Eat less processed foods, and don’t consume more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily. 3. Produce, please: Eat at least 2 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables every day. 4. Go for Grains: Whole grains are especially healthy, and corn tortillas, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice are great options. SILENCE STRESS Sometimes just walking away from whatever you’re doing to instead do nothing at all is the best way to de-stress. This can even help you recognize things you didn’t know you were stressing about. Get away from your computer or TV screen for a few minutes and just sit outside in
silence. Take a break from a frustrating project by laying on your bed with the lights off. Completely unplugging from everything just for a few minutes can bring your stress level way down.
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