Do this one thing for a BET­TER IM­MUNE SYS­TEM

Be­ing in na­ture can slash stress, rev en­ergy, and strengthen your health in ways doc­tors never imag­ined. Here’s how to score all the perks that go­ing al­fresco has to of­fer.

Shape (Singapore) - - Front Page -

You know from ex­pe­ri­ence that spend­ing time out­doors makes you feel great. In fact, com­muning with na­ture has been proved to lower stress, rally your en­ergy, up­grade your mood, and im­prove your blood pres­sure and heart rate. Now, re­searchers are dis­cov­er­ing that na­ture ac­com­plishes all this good work in a sur­pris­ing way: by mak­ing your im­mune sys­tem health­ier. When you’re in­doors, they ex­plain, you have to tune out a dozen dis­trac­tions (other peo­ple talk­ing, your phone, the TV) to fo­cus on what you’re do­ing, and that men­tal dis­ci­pline re­quires a huge amount of ef­fort. When you’re around green­ery, your mind is free to drift at will. That means your body has more power to in­vest in im­por­tant func­tions like strength­en­ing your im­mu­nity, ac­cord­ing to a re­view in Fron­tiers in Psy­chol­ogy.

“Na­ture flips your sys­tem’s switch from fight-or-flight mode to rest-and-digest mode,” says Ming Kuo, di­rec­tor of the Land­scape and Hu­man Health Lab­o­ra­tory at the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois at Ur­bana-Cham­paign. “When you’re re­laxed, the body has an op­por­tu­nity to re­cover.” Men­tally, you have a chance to let go of the ten­sion that’s been build­ing, boost­ing your mood and en­ergy.

The ef­fects of na­ture are so pow­er­ful that some doc­tors, such as Dr Nooshin Razani of UCSF Be­nioff Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Oak­land, are pre­scrib­ing time out­doors for pa­tients. “We’re de­vel­op­ing pro­to­cols that blend na­ture in­ter­ven­tions with med­i­cal prac­tice,” she says.

Ob­vi­ously, you know how to go out­side, but the ex­perts say there’s more to reap­ing the ben­e­fits than that. Here, they ex­plain.

GIVE IT AT LEAST 10 MIN­UTES A quick fix is all you need to im­prove your

abil­ity to fo­cus, ac­cord­ing to re­searchers from the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan and the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago. Any area with trees or green­ery will do the trick, so take a walk through a park or spend some time in your back­yard.

If you step out­side in the morn­ing, you’ll am­plify the perks even more. Morn­ing light has been shown to re­set your body clock, which sta­bilises en­ergy lev­els, revs your me­tab­o­lism, and starts your day on a zen note.

LET YOUR WORK­OUT BREAK FREE Peo­ple who ex­er­cise out­doors tend to en­joy it

more and go longer than those who stick to the gym, re­search shows. Be­sides the ob­vi­ous up­lift of be­ing in pret­tier sur­round­ings, it’s pos­si­ble that the dose of vi­ta­min D and re­duc­tion in cortisol, a stress hor­mone, play a part as well, ex­perts say.

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