We need nature.

Just picture it...you're having the most Monday of all Mondays. Your stress levels are through the roof, with clients needing this by 5:00 and your boss needing that by 3:00. Your head is pounding, your heart is racing, your blood is (hopefully not literally) boiling. Now if you could just calm down you know you could get it done. Lunch time comes and you head for a quick walk through Riverfront/Discovery/Manito/Cannon Park. Or along the Centennial Trail. You come back ready to conquer the to do pile. You aren't alone.

"A 15-minute walk in the woods causes measurable changes in physiology. Japanese researchers led by Yoshifumi Miyazaki at Chiba University sent 84 subjects to stroll in seven different forests, while the same number of volunteers walked around city centers. The forest walkers hit a relaxation jackpot: Overall they showed a 16 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a 2 percent drop in blood pressure, and a 4 percent drop in heart rate."

Doctors around the country are seeing the results of getting out of your chair as well. So much so that physical activity is now a vital sign at all Kaiser Permanente clinics.

Liz Joy, Medical Director for Community Health at Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, says that “It’s a way to bring discussion of physical activity into the exam room...Even if it’s just a brief conversation about how important it is to your overall health. I can let patients know it’s as important as blood pressure, and more important than obesity and cholesterol to your overall health.”

So we know we need to walk. We know we need to get outside. Why not combine the two?

Here's a math question for you....if you walk 15 minutes in a park every day, how many years will it take you to explore the 84,988 acres of parkland currently available in Spokane County alone? How much healthier will you be when you are done? And how much more will you have enjoyed yourself instead of sitting in a doctor's waiting room?

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