Does the body good

08-12-2013 7:18 AM

I grew up on a small farm in Michigan.   Whenever I was bored, moody or just being a little bratty my mom would say, ‘Go outside and run around. It will make you feel better.’ And she was right!  (The older I get, I’ve come to realize my mom was right about most things.)

Even now as an adult, connecting with nature makes me feel better. There’s nothing I love doing more on the weekends than spending time outdoors enjoying fresh air and being one with nature. Planting flowers. Going for a walk with my husband. Or just sitting outside on my back porch reading a book. Three of my favorite ways to enjoy the beauty of this earth. 

I always feel like being outdoors does my body, mind and soul some good. Actually, there is some science that supports that this is true!  According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the closer you live to nature, the healthier you're likely to be. In the study, people who lived less than a mile from a park or a wooded area experienced less anxiety and depression than those who lived farther away from green space. 

I know for those of us living in Texas where it’s 100 degrees in the shade, may not be as inclined to spend hours outside. But you don’t need much green time to get the benefits of nature. As little as five minutes exercising in a park, working in a backyard garden, hiking on a nature trail, playing with a pet, or even sitting in a plant-filled setting will benefit your mental health.

Being in a natural setting can also help increase your quality of sleep, as studies show that natural sunlight helps set the body's internal clock that tells us when to eat and sleep, and normalizes hormonal functions that occur at specific times of the day. And we all know how important sleep is not just for our physical and mental health, but a recent study has shown it is also important for skin health. 

And perhaps most important of all, when we are outdoors we get a chance to turn off—or better, leave behind—our cell phones to clear our heads and break from the stress we all have each and every day.

So as we enjoy the last few weeks of summer, plan your weekends or vacations to incorporate some time with nature.

It’s like milk. It does the body good.

Dr. Beth LangeDr. Beth Lange is Mary Kay’s Chief Scientific Officer.  Beth believes in the healing power of nature and loves the great outdoors.  Don’t be surprised if you see her on the hiking trail or taking a scenic stroll in the park. Don’t forget your sunscreen.






Pictured below: Dr. Beth Lange enjoying the great outdoors.