LONG BEACH NATURE JOURNAL

Improving your Health & Wellness

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Did you know that Canada’s first large-scale nature prescription program just launched in British Columbia, empowering health-care practitioners to formally prescribe time outdoors for the physical and mental health of patients?

Amazing right? Even though this is a relatively new concept to North America, the knowledge of time spent in nature and its connection to personal well being has been understood for centuries in other countries around the world. Best known here is Canada is whats called, Sinrin-yoku or Japanese Forest Bathing. We all know how good being in nature can make us feel and the Japanese have known this for centuries. The sounds of the forest, the scent of the trees, the sunlight playing through the leaves, the fresh, clean air — these things give us a sense of comfort. They ease our stress and worry, help us to relax and to think more clearly. Being in nature can restore our mood, give us back our energy and vitality, refresh and rejuvenate us.

The health benefits of time spent in nature have been the subject of intense study in recent years, and have proven to be broad. The largest meta-analysis of its kind, including data from 143 studies internationally and published in the journal Environmental Research in 2018, concluded that increased green space exposure was associated with decreased cortisol (stress) levels, heart rate, diastolic blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, risk of pre-term birth, Type 2 diabetes and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, and increased incidence of good self-reported health. And new studies continue to reinforce past results. For example in Finland, 36 Finnish daycare children were transformed from being primarily gravel-based to primarily nature-based and after 28 days in this wilder setting, the children's skin and gut microbiota became more robust and diverse, while markers of immune health and anti-inflammatory function surged. Getting results like this for health-care practitioners is a major win.

Back here in North America, we all know in our hearts that we have lost that personal connection with nature and that it lives somewhere “out there” beyond our reach of our ever growing concrete jungle. This year in 2020, we have seen huge impacts on our personal well being with the pandemic and the urge for us to escape into nature was seen here this past summer in British Columbia. Provincial and National Parks across the province saw record numbers of users, accessing these environments and spending more time in nature than ever before.

Now with an actual health care plan in place, in the coming months this program is hoping to expand to other provinces and territories, forging partnerships between health-care and parks organizations. Nature is an essential health service and we are very excited to see programs like this be official recognized and become apart of Canada’s health care plan. We encourage all of you to take a few hours every week to disconnect and spend some time in a green space near you. Leave your devices behind, and plug in to the world around you.

More more information and to learn more about nature’s health benefits visit:

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We are honoured to be operating in the territories of the Tla-o-qui-aht, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Tseshaht and Huu-ay-aht Nations.