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Boost your health, happiness & longevity with nature

According to the latest research, just two hours a week of green time can boost your health and wellbeing. It doesn’t matter if you get your dose in small chunks across the week or in one large session, a quick nature pick-me-up can help reduce your risk of some diseases and help prolong life.

So why is green good?

Simply getting outdoors encourages physical activity, exposure to sunlight and reduced pollution – all with obvious health benefits. It helps improve mood, energy, helps lower stress and anxiety – just to name a few. But in addition to that, trees and plants emit substances known as phytoncides (essential oils) and studies show that being exposed to these helps boost our immune system and anti-cancer cells.

These mental and physical health benefits help with living a longer life, so it’s no wonder that spending time in nature is also a core philosophy of people living in Blue Zones – populations around the world with the longest rates of longevity.

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What is ‘forest bathing’?

Spending time outdoors to improve your wellbeing is nothing new, with the practice first coined in 1980s Japan. It’s inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates to ‘forest bathing’ (don’t worry, it doesn’t involve any water or swimming as the term might suggest).

The idea is actually quite simple: it involves walking through or spending time in a nature area and immersing yourself in the environment. In Asia, it is nationally recognised as a stress reduction method and way to combat chronic illness. But not everyone has the time to get a quick dose of nature, so the Japanese were the first to look at incorporating trees and nature into built environments or as they term them ‘park prescriptions’.

Forest bathing has now caught on worldwide, with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy adopting the concept globally.

Why not try some of our tips to get you out and about? 

If you have a regular exercise routine, don’t be afraid to mix it up and take it outside. Your regular treadmill run can be swapped for a refreshing hike, or your regular Pilates class can take a trip outside by simply popping your Pilates mat on your lawn.

Another reason to get outdoors is you’ll get more vitamin D, but be sun smart – just 10-15 minutes of sun mid-morning or afternoon can provide enough vitamin D. This sunshine vitamin helps our bodies absorb calcium and phosphate, which we need for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. You can also get small amounts of vitamin D from eggs, mushrooms and fortified foods like margarines, some milks and soy milks.

If you’ve never tried hiking before, it's an inexpensive activity that encourages fun times in the great outdoors.

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