How to Significantly Improve Health in Only 18 Minutes a Day

Exercise – Exercise – Exercise!

We hear it more and more these days. Our world of growing electronics and technology is producing a society of sedentary adults. With the rise of the technology, there has been a rise in obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and some cancers.

When I was young, before the age of cell phones, tablets and home computers, many people, young, middle-aged and older spent a lot more time outside and being active. Kids played ball, chase, cops & robbers, cowboys & Indians, along with riding bicycles and more. Even many young adults spent more time outdoors playing baseball, softball, football and more. Other adults spent more time outside carrying for their lawns and gardens (when I was younger, I don’t recall seeing very many lawn services whereas today, they are all over the place).

People in general were healthier back then than they are now and a lot of that was directly linked to their being more active, along with eating healthier (fast foods were still in their infancy). Not only was the general population physically healthier but they were also mentally healthier. It’s been a proven fact that physical activity not only strengthens the body, but it also helps keep the brain healthier or should I say functioning better.

Many experts – medical – nutritional – psychological – all recommend that we exercise at least 10 minutes every day, or longer if possible. Most recommendations include both aerobic and strength exercises. Some even recommend adding some balance and flexibility exercises as well, especially for older adults.

For many adults, it is recommended that they walk, generally at a faster than normal pace, at least 15-20 minutes day and then to steadily increase the distance and time spent walking.

A new study offers another exercise tip that helps both physically and mentally and it only takes an average of 18 minutes a day:

A recent study of 20,000 people published in the journal Scientific Reports finds that people who spend at least 120 minutes per week — that’s about 18 minutes a day — in nature are far more likely to report being in good health and having higher psychological well-being, as compared to those who don’t embrace nature. People who spent some time in nature, but fewer than 120 minutes a week, “were no more likely to report good health or high well-being than those who reported 0 minutes,” the study authors found.

You can break that 120 minutes up however you like — into one very long visit or shorter ones. And you don’t have to go deep into a forest: Parks, woodlands and beaches work too.

Whatever you do, this nature exposure is likely to have a big impact if you get enough of it: Those who spent 120 to 180 minutes in nature were roughly 20% more likely to say they had higher psychological well-being than their less-nature-exposed peers, and 60% more likely to say their health was good.

I know how true this is as I’ve often retreated to nature to clear my head, calm down and get away from the tensions, pressures and dramas of daily living. In my teen years, I lived next to the open desert and would often take long walks in the desert and I always felt so much better when I returned than when I left. My dad used to get away to nature as often as possible – hunting, fishing, camping just exploring new parts of the state. He always felt so much better after a weekend away in nature than when de at the start of each weekend.

According to this study, you don’t have to drive an hour or two away, but just go to a nearby park or any place near home, as long as you get away from the home. While the study didn’t mention getting outside in one’s own backyard, but I know that I usually feel so much better after spending time in the yard tending to the lawn, my daylily and/or vegetable gardens. I may be more tired and sweaty, but I feel healthier physically and mentally. Personally, I find it more rewarding to grow potatoes than to be a couch potato.

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