By Michael Coyne | Contributor
Improving your overall physical and mental health can be a walk in the park. Cardiff is a city that is rife with nature with Bute Park, Roath Park, Sofia Gardens and more. It is a beautiful place to go outdoors. Doing so could be just the boost you need for both your mental and physical wellbeing.
Stress is becoming increasingly common these days. With financial troubles, global pandemics and spending too much time in the office or studying. Spending time in nature has multiple stress relieving factors, such as releasing endorphins to regulate mood. It can also lower your heart rate and reducing the time spent dwelling on your troubles. It is also a completely free resource. Exploring nature has benefits on the immune system and gives you a break from your day-to-day workspaces. It can take out your problem from the root. Even just walking barefoot on grass can alleviate stress, as well as helping you sleep, or even improving eyesight.
Sunlight plays a vital role in nature, as well as providing a vital role in our health. Exposure to the sun for as little as ten minutes a few times a week in the summer, or twenty minutes a few times a week in winter will increase your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D has many benefits, such as reducing inflammation, helping the body absorb calcium and other minerals. It will also strengthen your bones, boost your immune system and protecting the neurons in your brain.
If that is not enough for you, sunlight also has a positive effect on your T cells, a vital part of your immune system helping to fight infection. Do be careful not to get too much sunlight, however, as this can do more harm than good. Take the necessary precautions like sunhats, sunglasses and sun cream to reduce your risk of negative health effects such as heatstroke and cancer.
Although the Welsh government is committed to reducing air pollution, city centres, like Cardiff, always suffer the worst. Fortunately, even with all the hustle and bustle of daily life, trees and other plants help to filter out those harmful pollutants. Most importantly they provide us with fresh, clean air to breathe. Not only is this better for your lungs, but the increased oxygen from plants will promote general healthy brain function, repair, and growth.
Many plants also release phytoncides, natural chemicals that have antimicrobial and insecticidal properties designed to protect the trees. These chemicals will also improve your immune system responses and reduce cortisol levels. Not to mention providing a sense of relaxation and aiding in your sleep quality. Some phytoncides even have anti-depressant properties, improving your mood overall.
Knowing about the health benefits of nature is a good starting point, but some people still might not know how to get themselves outside. It can be as simple as sitting in your garden, or under a tree. You can, however, get adventurous and go for a stroll around your local park or take off along the Taff trail. Alternatively, promote your mental health whilst meditating, listening to music, or reading a good book in natural settings.
You could even take up Shinrin Yoku, the Japanese practice of forest bathing. Improving your life by observing nature, moving calmly between the trees, and deeply breathing in all the fresh forest air. With all that in mind, now is the time to turn over some new leaves and head outdoors.
If you would like more information on the health benefits of exploring nature, there are many sources to inform you further inform you on the subject. Here are a few links to get you started.