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5 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Spending Time in Nature

When we get sick we usually lock ourselves into our bedrooms, or worse: into the sterility of a hospital room. But science has proven that to stay healthy, you might want to try the forest before you head to your bedroom.

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In the recesses of our minds we probably all know that spending time in nature is good for us. There’s just something about it that makes us feel good, right?! But now science has gone and backed this up with studies showing that ecotherapy and forest bathing have proven effects on our physical and mental wellbeing. The results are, by all means, pretty epic.

So if you ever wondered about whether you should join the scouts, start hiking, or get kayaking, the answer is: yes. Go outside.

What the H*ck is Ecotherapy and Forest Bathing?

Ecotherapy is a form of therapy where you spend time in nature to heal, or simply to stay healthy.

Forest bathing (a.k.a. Shinrin-yoku) is a Japanese concept of spending time, not actually bathing in a forest, but rather just being immersed in a forest. In other words: going for hikes, hanging out by the campfire, meditating, or just simply being in the forest.

Both these practices have been proven to help improve overall health and wellbeing. So city lovers, you might need a new NewYears promise for 2019: spending time in nature.

Happy Eyes

Good vision is important for most of us. As cool as glasses are, it’s even cooler to have happy eyes.

Studies have now found that spending time in the great outdoors seems to help prevent nearsightedness. Possibly because the lens and the retina develop the right distance between each other when exposed to natural light outdoors. This is particularly important for children whose eyes are still developing. The magic time needed outdoors daily? About two hours minimum. So come rain or shine, make sure to get your kiddos outside! (1)

Decreased Symptoms of ADD and ADHD

Spending time in green spaces (not just outdoors, but in actual green spaces, such as parks, forests and gardens) appear to lessen the symptoms of ADD and ADHD. Somehow this doesn’t seem very surprising, does it? After all, you burn a lot of energy outdoors and since when did green spaces not have a calming effect? Ever tried just stepping outside and taking some deep breaths? (2)

A Better Immune System and Improved Health

According to Japanese research that involved 280 different participants across Japan: “forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.” Cortisol is a stress hormone often associated with inflammation. High blood pressure is also related to stress in many instances (though far from all), as is sympathetic nerve activity, while parasympathetic nerve activity is linked to a lower heart rate. This shows that spending time in the forest can have a positive effect on mental health (stress) as well as physical health (physical stress and inflammation). (3)

Better Protection Against Infection and Cancer

Another cool side effect of forest bathing appears to be the increase of natural killer cells (those are needed to prevent cancer and infection). One study found that spending three days in the forest increases your natural killer cell count by about 50%. The elevated count then lasts for about a month. This is good news for those who live in the city and don’t have time to hang about the forest every day. Apparently wood essential oils (phytoncides) alone have an effect on the increase of natural killer cells. It seems sometimes you really can bottle the experience and take it home! (4) (5) (6) (7)

Increased Happiness

If you are feeling depressed, try going for a jog in nature, or play a game of football in a clearing in the woods. Just spending time in nature appears to have a positive impact on mental wellbeing, but exercising in nature can help reduce anger and sadness as well. (9) (10) (11)

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There Is No Excuse Not To Go Outside

Spending time in nature, particular in greenery, appears to have an incredibly positive effect both on mental and physical health. If you live in Antartica, you might want to consider getting a conservatory and filling it with green plants and a very warm fireplace for snowy days. For everyone in slightly warmer climates, there really is no excuse not to go outside. At least not if you want to be healthy.

1) https://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/21/opinion/21wang.html

2) http://lhhl.illinois.edu/media/2005.07_kanter.htm

3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19568835

4) https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/135/12/2910S/4669927

5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17903349

6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19568839

7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16873099?dopt=Abstract

8) https://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/news/new-research-shows-benefits-of-ecotherapy-for-mental-health-and-wellbeing/#.W1nmzi2B2rc

9) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16916314

10) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494409000838

11) https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/10/the-nature-cure/403210/ 


Related Articles

If you’re searching for therapy exercises, then it’s possible that you just have aphasia or another kind of language disorder.

Aphasia usually happens once there a left side stroke or left side brain injury that damages the language center of the brain, that is found within the left brain. an injury here usually results in language/communication difficulties.

Speech exercises are a great way to improve brain disease, especially after you follow them with heavy repetition. Repetition helps activate neuroplasticity, the method that your brain uses to wire and structure itself.

If a stroke or brain injury has broken the language center of your brain, then neuroplasticity will help the healthy, close areas of the brain to “pick up the slack.”

Practicing therapy exercises may be a must for improving speech when a stroke or brain injury.

Bonus: download our free stroke recovery tips ebook. (Link can open a pop-up that may not interrupt your reading.)

Speech Therapy Exercises

The following speech therapy exercises are very easy.

However, easy will still be effective – especially if you apply them with solid repetition and consistency.

If you are doing each exercise 20+ times, six days every week, then you must see results soon.

Here are the exercises:

1. Tongue In-and-Outs

Stick your tongue out and hold it for two seconds, then pull it back in. Hold for two seconds, and repeat.

2. Tongue area

Open your mouth and move your tongue to the touch the correct corner of your mouth. Hold for two seconds, then touch the left corner of your mouth. Hold for two seconds, and repeat.

3. Tongue Up-and-Down

Open your mouth and stick your tongue out. Then, reach your tongue up toward your nose. Hold for two seconds, then reach your tongue down toward your chin. Hold for two seconds, and repeat.

It’s best to try and do all of those exercises in front of the mirror so you'll be able to get proper visual feedback.

4. Say Cheese!

To help improve control of your lips, follow smiling in front of a mirror. Smile, then relax. Repeat the maximum amount as you can stand.

The mirror is very important because it provides feedback, that is fuel for your brain!

5. Practices Your Kissy Face

When you’re done active those smiles, move onto creating kissy faces by puckering your lips. Pucker your lips along, then relax. Repeat 10 times in front of the mirror.

6. Consonant & Vowel Pairing Repetition

Once you have got exercised your tongue, you can begin to follow creating sounds.

Take a consonant that you just have trouble voice communication, then combine it with every one of the five vowels (a, e, i, o, u).

For example, if you have got trouble with the “r” sound, then practice speech “ra, re, ri, ro, ru” over and over.

If you actually struggle with every sound, then you can try voice communication every one separately over and over. for example, begin by voice communication “ra” 20 times. Then move onto “re” twenty times; etc.

Repeat this for all sounds that you just have an issue with.

7. Exercise with therapy Apps

While the exercises above are an excellent place to begin, they aren’t tailored to your unique problem areas.

If you suffer from aphasia once stroke, then it’s an excellent plan to try using therapy apps like Constant therapy.

Speech therapy apps can assess your current ability levels and assign exercises that focus on your problem areas.

The interaction with the app makes it a lot of engaging, too, so you're motivated to get your reps in!

8. Word Games

If you’re searching for different free exercises to undertake, here are some that we tend to recommend:

To work on your visual process and comprehension, try laptop games like solitaire or alchemy.

To exercise your problem solving and visual process, try word games like word searches or problem puzzles.

To practice your comprehension, try a puzzle game like Sudoku.

Most brain games can help improve speech once you observe them regularly.

Doing the simplest speech therapy Exercises

Overall, the simplest speech therapy exercises are those you practice repetitively and systematically. That’s, however, the brain recovers.

However, because many various skills go into speech, it’s important to cover all of your bases by operating with an SLP or using therapy apps.

And if you have got trouble obtaining started as a result of you can’t speak at all, then singing therapy could be a great choice to look into.

Should You Work with a Speech-Language Pathologist?

If you actually struggle with regaining speech, then you may wish to consider working with a speech-language pathologist (SLP).

An SLP is trained to help you recover speech after medical specialty injury, and that they work with all areas of speech recovery that we tend to list earlier.

Most people work with an SLP for as long as insurance can cover, then move onto speech apps once insurance cuts them off.

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