Originally Published: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 6:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 12, 2013 at 4:23 p.m.
Getting up close and personal with Mother Nature yields big mind-body benefits. A walk in the park is a great lunchtime activity, but new reports reveal that even desk jockeys and folks with little time (or no great love for the great outdoors) can reap the rewards of a green environment with only a few plants around their workplace and in their home. But you can’t pack all your green-time into a one-week vacation or a weekend excursion to the mountains; that’s like having seven drinks on Saturday night. No way it’s the same as having one glass of beer or wine per day! You need a little green-time every — or almost every — day to reap its amazing benefits for your brain and body.
Stronger immunity: In a Japanese study, levels of protective natural killer cells that battle viruses and some forms of cancer rose 40 percent when businessmen spent time walking in the woods. But you can get a similar immune boost from sniffing forest scents indoors. Who says you can’t fool Mother Nature? (Well, really, your brain or your immune system!)
A break from worry: Getting outside when you’re feeling stressed improves mood and boosts short-term memory. And if you’re depressed, getting out and about makes it five times more likely you’ll feel better than if you stay indoors. Combine natural scenery with exercise and you’re really going to amp up your mood boosters.
More energy: Office workers feel more energetic with a green plant or two nearby, and they become more productive. Your smart move: Place some greenery where you can see it when you look up from your computer.
Higher creativity: Brain scans suggest immersing yourself in a natural scene, whether 3-D or in a picture, turns up brain activity in areas that govern pleasure and emotion. You’ll feel more relaxed and balanced and improve your creativity by as much as 50 percent.
Ready to go green? Here’s how: visit http://www.ocala.com/article/20130813/COLUMNISTS/130819943?template=printpicart