Consumer Reports: Healing power of nature

Are you feeling tired, stressed by the pressures of your life? Consumer Reports says one easy and free way to feel better is to simply open your door and step out into nature.

A wealth of scientific evidence shows stress hormones drop and health benefits rise after even small doses in green spaces.

Like a lot of us, Maura Costello has a busy family life and a stressful job. When she feels overwhelmed, she turns to nature for some relief. Today she is meditating in the woods with nature guide, John Polemis.

"We get very stuck in our stress and it's important to take your time to stop," Polemis said.

"It gives me some peace. It gives me some quiet and I don't think there is a better place to do that than in nature," Costello said.

Consumer Reports says you don't need a guide, or have to spend hours in the wilderness to benefit.

"One study shows that as little as 20 minutes in or near green spaces may help lower stress hormones and even something as simple as taking care of your potted plants could help reduce stress," said Consumer Reports Health Editor Kevin Loria.

Some scientific reviews suggest your physical health can benefit too, linking spending time outdoors to better sleep, reduced depression and reduced obesity.

Among older adults spending time in nature is associated with lower mortality from heatstroke, cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes. Maybe you're wondering how simply spending time outside could reap such big benefits?

"Scientists say that being in nature helps reduce your exposure to air pollution, noise pollution and heat -- all of which are linked to chronic disease," Loria said.

In nature, you're also more likely to be physically active, which can help lower the risk of cancer and cardiovascular problems as well as improving mental health and brain function.

To get the most out of your time outside, Consumer Reports says leave the electronics behind and simply enjoy all that nature has to offer.

Consumer Reports says even if you're stuck in an office all day, there's evidence that just looking out a window or viewing scenes of woods and meadows on your computer could be beneficial. And don't worry if 20 minutes a day is not possible. Committing to just 5 minutes wherever you feel connected to nature is a good start!

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