BY OREN GUTTMANN | TRAILS COMMITTEE | DECEMBER 7, 2019
Have an ache and need some pain relievers? Doctor wrote a script for upped doses of a medication? Feeling down and need someone to talk to? How about just going outside for a bit?
OK, well maybe nature isn’t the cure-all I’d like it to be, but recent research shows a clear link between exposure to natural environments and peoples’ reporting of better overall health and well-being.
How much nature do you really need?
A study reported in the June 13, 2019 edition of Nature (tinyurl.com/Nature120min) indicates spending a minimum of 120 minutes a week is needed to significantly increase the number of participants who report good health or high well-being. This was true for healthy adults, older adults and those with long-term health issues. The study confirmed that results were consistent for adults across the socio-demographic spectrum and accounted for things like employment/relationship status, dog ownership, sex, age and ethnicity.
Here in Hinesburg this dose of nature should be pretty easy for almost everyone to get, right? With all of these trees and forests around, let alone most of us living on a dirt road seemingly in the sticks, isn’t that sufficient? Well, just living in and around nature, or indirect exposure, doesn’t seem to be enough. The optimum amount of nature is about 120 minutes of direct exposure and living in close proximity only helps us to get that necessary amount.
What does direct exposure really mean? Do you need to be exercising in some fashion, hiking, running or biking while taking in the trees? No! While exercise has its own proven mental and physical benefits and exercising in nature may have its own benefits over indoor or urban locations, this study indicated that even sitting passively in a natural setting provides its own set of psychological and physiological benefits.
The Trails Committee facilitates access to nature by maintaining and expanding our trail network through our dirt roads and forests, so access and use is both easier and more enjoyable. From going for a hike, reading the StoryWalk in Geprags Park, studying the ferns in our town forests or volunteering to maintain a section of trail, there are many right ways to get your dose of nature. What gets you out into the woods? Better yet, what stops you from getting out in the woods? Let us know so that we tackle projects that will make a positive change in how you access our trails and ultimately receive the health benefits of getting out there.