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The power of nature and your prescription for better health

A quiet day on the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
Photo by: Tracy Manieri Priest

These days the majority of us drive to work inside our cars, work inside and even spend our free time in coffee houses inside. A majority of Americans lack healthy levels of Vitamin D which we can get directly from 20 minutes a day of healthy sunshine. By raising your Vitamin D levels, you have increased protection from bone weakness, heart disease, diabetic issues and other chronic diseases.

In addition, nature offers our bodies and minds an opportunity to breath fresh air and clear our minds of the day to day stressors. Have you been concerned with the increase of ADHD diagnosis and symptoms in children and adults in the past few years?

According to a publication in Environment and Behavior Journal, "Children who are exposed to natural or outdoor settings receive benefits to their cognitive health, such as reduction of ADHD symptoms" (Wells, N.M., 2000).

Another fascinating study examined how increased time in nature enhances social interactions and actually makes people nicer and more generous (Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1315-1329.) Wouldn't you like to take your boss for a walk more often?

There are multiple studies examining Nature Deficit Disorder and it has become a true diagnosis with scientists spending time and energy researching it. Spending time in nature has recently been tagged "EcoTherapy" to alleviate symptoms of stress and depression. What better way to utilize a free source of therapy and it's available to you right in your backyard. To read more about benefits of "EcoTherapy" visit, or check out one of Richard Louv novels, "Last Child in the Woods" or "The Nature Principle".

Some cities and towns such as Atlanta are appropriately referred to as "concrete jungles". We are uniquely lucky to live in Greenville which has trees, woods, nature and beautiful parks all within walking distance from downtown. The Swamp Rabbit trail at any time can offer a quick way to get right in the heart of nature and small waterfalls. There are multiple entrances and now that it connects all the way to Traveler's Rest, a beautiful way to take a family walk or bike ride in nature.

The rarely visited McPherson Park and Timmons Park are very close to downtown Greenville and perfect for small nature hikes and direct nature connections. Go by yourself or with your family and sit by the water, look for bugs or just breathe deeply and absorb the fresh air. And don't forget about Linky Stone Park and the Children's Garden right off the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Visit Greenville City Parks for details and locations.

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