Shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” is a traditional Japanese practice of immersing oneself in nature by mindfully using all five senses. But you don’t have to lose yourself in a forest to reap the health benefits of being in nature. Something as simple as a walk through a park or by a lake can pay off for your well-being, says Frances Kuo, PhD, founder and director of the Landscape and Human Health Lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“Even just looking at a rooftop garden for 40 seconds helps you sustain attention during mentally fatiguing tasks,” she says, citing a 2015 study. Here are more reasons to embrace the outdoors.
- More positive outlook. Participants in a small study who took a 90-minute nature walk, compared with those who walked through an urban environment, reported lower levels of ruminating (repetitive negative thoughts), a known risk for depression and other psychological conditions. They also showed reduced activity in an area of the brain linked to sadness and withdrawal.
- Better sleep. An Australian study of 259,319 people found that people living in neighborhoods with more greenspace were more likely to get eight hours of sleep nightly than those living in neighborhoods with less green space.
- Less pain. A landmark study published in the journal Science found that hospitalized patients whose windows looked onto a garden setting healed faster from surgery and required less pain medication than patients whose view was a brick wall.
- Sharper memory. When people took an hour stroll in a nature setting, their short-term memory improved by 20 percent, a study in Psychological Science found. Even looking at pictures of nature helped memory.
- Healthier heart. People whose homes have easier access to woods and parks had lower levels of blood-vessel-damaging adrenaline and higher levels of circulating angiogenic cells (CACs), which repair blood vessel damage, according to a study of cardiology patients.
If you’re a pet lover, you know that spending time with a beloved cat, dog, rabbit or other pet can lift your mood, but science shows it has real physical and mental health benefits, too. Studies show that spending as little as five or 10 minutes with a pet can help lower stress and anxiety, relieve loneliness and reduce pain and depression. Continue reading Pets Can Boost Your Mood and Ease Your Pain
Standing desks may be the biggest development in office furniture since chairs on wheels. But is working on your feet really better than sitting? Not necessarily, says Alan Hedge, PhD, ergonomics researcher and professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University. Moderation is key. Continue reading Are Standing Desks Good for People With Arthritis
When the temperature drops, wearing the right clothing when you head out into the elements can ease the ache in your joints. “The best way to beat the chill is by wearing layers,” says Heidi V. Freeman, PhD, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Layering lightweight fabrics can keep you toasty with less bulk. Here’s how. Continue reading Beat the Chill
Entertaining kids and keeping up with their energy can be a challenge, especially when you have arthritis. But with planning, a positive attitude and some help from others, you can enjoy your time with them without paying for it later in joint pain and fatigue. Continue reading Keep Your Grandkids Busy Without the Fatigue of Arthritis
Winter weather usually means two things for hands: pain and stiffness. Simply running your hands under warm water can jumpstart relief. But for longer-lasting effects, try these hot ideas. Continue reading Hot Tips for Cold Hands
Changes don’t have to be difficult or dramatic to make a difference. There is no time like the present to adopt good habits that can improve your health and happiness for the long term. Continue reading FIVE GREAT HABITS FOR A HEALTHIER 2019
If short days have you feeling blue, getting more sunshine and exercise can help, says Mark Rapaport, MD, chairman of the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. These strategies also might help.
- Look ahead. Plan and focus on something positive in your future, Dr. Rapaport suggests, like a vacation or a night out with friends.
- Get crafty. Knitting yourself a scarf could do more than protect you from the cold. A study of 3,545 knitters worldwide found a link between knitting and happiness. The greatest impact was among those who knitted in a group.
- Say “om.” Easy on painful joints, yoga is also tough on the blues, according to a review article in Frontiers in Psychiatry. Yoga appears to influence brain chemicals and inflammation in the body similarly to antidepressants and psychotherapy.
- Get enough zzz’s. It’s hard to feel good when you are sleep-deprived. Research shows that increasing sleep time by treating insomnia may improve mood. If your blues don’t go away and you feel helpless, hopeless, guilty or despairing, see a professional.
If you have gout, you know all about high uric acid levels. Uric acid (UA) forms when the body breaks down purines, which are found in human cells and many foods. You may be working with your doctor, taking medication and avoiding certain foods to keep UA levels in the normal range, but could you be overlooking an important factor – your weight? Continue reading Weight Loss Helps Gout
Getting out of bed when you have arthritis can produce a chorus of creaks and pops. Morning stiffness is an all-too-common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and osteoarthritis (OA). Continue reading Your Arthritis Morning Routine