Thursday, April 26, 2018

Green Exercise Benefits

Running through the forest. Cycling through your neighborhood park. Walk­ing alongside a river. To most people, “green exercise”—intentionally being physically active in natural environments—feels good, and growing research evidence confirms its benefits.

Defining Green Exercise
Green exercise is any form of physical activity that takes place in urban green spaces like city parks and campuses maintained by people or in natural green spaces with minimal human upkeep.

What the Research Says
Study findings on green exercise speak loudly: The advantages of exercising in healthy, natural environments go beyond the benefits of exercising in synthetic indoor locations. Green exercise delivers physical, mental and even spiritual rewards and has positive effects on health, well-being and athletic performance. Being active in nature has many advantages compared with doing the same activity inside or on city streets:
  • more stress relief
  • clearer thinking
  • improved attention and concentration
  • enhanced mood and more happiness
  • less anxiety
  • greater self-confidence
  • more vitality
  • more feelings of being refreshed
  • reduced pain sensations
  • less fatigue for the same amount of physical work
  • improved quantity and quality of nighttime sleep
  • enhanced mindfulness or present-moment awareness
Underlying Mechanisms
The theory that exposure to nature is in itself beneficial to people is bolstered by studies that show that viewing videos of nature scenes, having indoor foliage or flowers, seeing nature through a hospital room window, or simply having green classroom walls boosts mental and physical well-being and performance.

Ready to Take It Outdoors?
With an understanding of current green-exercise research, we’re reminded that being active in nature is restorative to brain, body and spirit. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul,” said environmentalist John Muir.
Perhaps it’s time to take some barefoot walks in the grass.

Full Article

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Creating Healthy Habits

Creating and sustaining new habits can be difficult. Let's look into the anatomy of a habit and some strategies to create new behaviors.

Anatomy of a Habit
A habit is more than just a repetitive behavior, but rather a construction of three sequential components that make up the habit loop: the cue, the behavior, and the reward.

Cue: an environmental or internal trigger that provokes us to learn a behavior. An example of an environmental trigger is placing a foam roller next to your shoes, which triggers you to do self-massage prior to running.

Behavior: the actual routine we commonly associate with the habit.

Reward: makes the behavior stick. The "high" runners feel after a 6-mile run is enough to make them want to repeat the experience.

Establishing New Habits
1. Establish goals and milestones: Habit formation varies greatly from person to person and can take as long as 66 days. It's a long process that requires consistent implementation. If you have an ambitious goal like losing 60 pounds, it's important to divide it into smaller, less daunting and more realistic outcomes.

2. Identify motivational factors: Intrinsic motivation involves doing an activity for the inherent satisfaction rather than for a separable consequence. For example, losing weight for long term health outcomes rather than an upcoming wedding. Focusing on your intrinsic motivation tends to lead to results which last longer.

3. Pick a goal-oriented behavior: While it might seem appealing to make a lot of changes at once, focusing on one habit at a time may lead to greater success.

4. Create the cue and reward: Once you've selected a behavior, choose a cue that will trigger it. For example, if you opt to drink 2 cups of water before every meal, consider setting a reminder alarm or keeping a water bottle next to the computer screen. Then select a reward to reinforce the behavior.

5. Eliminate disruptors: If you can identify disruptors, you can overcome pitfalls before they occur. For example, if not having water readily available disrupts the behavior of drinking 2 cups before every meal, purchase a water bottle that's easy to fill and transport.

6. Follow up: Hold yourself accountable to the new behavior.
--The Power of Habit: Charles Duhigg

Have you had success with creating new habits? What strategies worked for you?