Boost Your Health Outdoors
Health experts keep finding more reasons for people of all ages to get active outside in nature.
Wild kids: Concerned that “kids have lost touch with nature and the outdoors in just one generation,” 400 organizations in the UK have launched a campaign to bring back “wild time” for children – active play outdoors, including camping. “The organisers argue that swapping 30 minutes of television and computer games each day for outdoor play would increase the levels of fitness and alertness and improve children’s well-being,” the BBC News stated. Benefits include independence, creativity, proper development, happiness, and of course, health. They’ll have a wild time: “We want parents to see what this magical wonder product does for their kids’ development, independence and creativity, by giving wild time a go.”
Wild ideas: To go along with the previous story, the BBC News listed 10 ways to reconnect with nature this autumn, to avoid “nature deficit disorder.” Four in five British children are suffering from the lack of outdoor fun, such as “jumping in puddles, kicking up leaves, or listening to birds singing from the tops of trees.” That’s a reason for “Project Wild Thing,” an initiative to reconnect children with nature with a film project and website. One of the activities recommended is to watch starling murmurations – a remarkable phenomenon highlighted in Illustra Media’s latest documentary, Flight: The Genius of Birds (see video clip on Guideposts.com, but it looks and sounds much better with the Blu-ray disk on a large HDTV screen with 5.1 surround sound).
Wild adults: Outdoor activity is not just for kids. Want to avoid joint pain? Science Daily reported that “Increasing Physical Activity in Adults With or at Risk for Osteoarthritis May Lead to Longer, Higher Quality of Life With Less Money Spent in Health Care.” A study with 4,700 US adults at risk of knee arthritis found a significant relationship between the amount of physical activity and “quality adjusted life years,” a measure of “health outcomes based on both quality of life and survival duration a particular medical intervention would add to the patient’s life.” Conclusion: “Regular physical activity improves health and reduces mortality in the general population. Furthermore, physical activity promotes arthritis-specific health benefits including improving symptoms, function and psychosocial outcomes, as well as reduced disability.”
Exercise for cognition: Nature highlighted a connection between exercise and neuron health. Exercise boosts production of a protein called irisin, that protects neurons (10/20/13), resulting in improved cognitive performance in patients with some neurological conditions.
Exercise for joy: Even more dramatic, Medical Xpress reported that exercise – even moderate exercise – “not only treats, but prevents depression.” This is based on a 26-year longitudinal study that found “even low levels of physical activity (walking and gardening for 20-30 minutes a day) can ward off depression in people of all age groups.”
Walk for survival: Another Science Daily story found better outcomes for breast cancer survivors on aromatase inhibitor therapy who undertook a walking program. “At the end of six weeks, 100 percent of the study participants said they would recommend the program to other breast cancer survivors experiencing joint pain or stiffness.” Walking is not just for this select group: “Physical activity is recommended for breast cancer patients — as it is for all adults — for both physical and mental health reasons.”
Personal note: the editor of Creation-Evolution Headlines is a cancer survivor. He has found daily vigorous walks (2-4 miles up and down hills) a key component of his remarkable recovery over the last eight months since he lay helpless on a hospital bed after major surgery. He was also blessed to have a childhood with a lot of outdoor activity, camping, and connection with nature that has continued with his Creation Safaris. His father, an avid outdoorsman with a phenomenal record of backpacking in the mountains, wrote a song with these words: “He made it for you, that life might be richer; that you might look up, and share His great love.” In this sense, using your body and senses to see what your Creator has made is an act of thanksgiving, even of worship. Make outdoor activity a part of every day; and, when you can, take some longer expeditions to explore the beauty of God’s green earth.