How a Walk in the Park can Make You More Productive and Improve Your Health
Boost your immune system, combat depression and be more productive by taking a walk in nature.
Have you ever wanted to throw your computer out of the window, or in the absence of a window, the nearest irritating person?
When it comes to the crunch, literally, would this solve any of your problems? You might feel a buzz for a brief moment, before realising that you’ve destroyed your most precious possession. But the answer is simpler than you think. Getting out into nature can improve your mood, boost your immune system and help you fight off infections. The effects can also last for up to a month.
Your Mental Health and Coping with Deadline Pressure
There are days when the pressure gets to you, especially when you’re pushing to reach a deadline and putting everything into responding to every inconceivable bleat of a demanding client. When your email inbox is buckling under the weight of repetitive deadline reminders, whilst you’re trying to capture the essence of a business into a catchy strapline that will magnetise customers, the last thing on your mind is taking time off to commune with nature.
But what would happen if you did the unthinkable and close you computer for an hour and go native, heading out into the wilderness? Will the world stop spinning? The emails will still be there, but it could be beneficial for your health and also for your productivity. It can also help improve communication with your colleagues and clients.
Boosting Your Immune System with Nature
Recent scientific discoveries have shown that natural environments have chemical and biological agents that improve health. Many plants contain phytoncides, which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds that protect the plant from being eaten or decaying. These compounds have been found to reduce blood pressure, alter autonomic activity and boost immune functioning (Komori et al., 1995; Dayawansa et al., 2003; Li et al., 2006, 2009). Instead of shrivelling away in a darkened corner, talking to yourself and pouring over your precious computer, actually stepping out into the world can actually prevent you from rotting away.
Walking Can Help with Depression and Immune Response
Finding your way out into natural sunlight can also help with your mood and combat depression, as forests, mountainous areas or moving water have higher concentrations of negative air ions (Li et al., 2010; Terman et al., 1998; Goel et al., 2005). These environments also contain mycobacterium vaccae, a microorganism that appears to boost immune functioning (Lowry et al., 2007). Not only will you be less pasty, you’ll also feel better about yourself and your clients, helping you respond in a more positive way.
Shinrinyoku: Japanese Forest Bathing
The Japanese have got this sussed, and have for some time. Forest bathing in Japan has been recognised as a valid form of relaxation and therapy, with robust studies on the wide-ranging benefits of the natural environment. Research on twenty-five men and women was conducted on the effects of forest bathing, with blood and urine samples taken before and after a three-day trip. Natural killer (NK) activity, which provides rapid responses to virus-infected cells, was measured and was found to be significantly higher following the trip.
These findings indicate that forest bathing trips increase NK activity, which was mediated by increases in the number of NK cells and the levels of intracellular anti-cancer proteins. Phytoncides released from trees and the decreased production of stress hormones may partially contribute to the increased NK activity (Qing, 2010).
This was after only three days and two nights in the forest. They also took further measurements of the participants and found that the effects of being in nature lasted for up to thirty days. This mean that you don’t have to run out every day to find a few trees. Regular jaunts into the wilds can have lasting and powerful effects on your mind and body.
Taking all these beneficial factors into account, isn’t it worth taking a break and getting out into nature? Wouldn’t it be better to work with a strong immune system whilst feeling less depressed and a reduced risk of heart problems? So put the computer down, step away from the computer and get your walking boots on.
Dr John Rowe is an experienced copywriter, empowering health and wellbeing businesses to increase visibility, attract clients and save time by creating exciting targeted content. For more information on copywriting, content marketing and social media, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 852 7258