84—I hope you'll take my lead on this...

Green Walkies

Naturopath Lisa Fitzgibbon walking through the bush on a wooden path in Waiheke Island

The more bush the better...

Forget about drinking a daily Green Smoothie. Trade this habit in for a ‘Green Walkie’ instead. In my humble opinion this will be much better for your health.

By taking yourself off for a walk somewhere ‘green’, you’ll not only be getting some exercise, but you’ll also be improving your microbiome (your body bacteria), your mood, as well as your sleep quantity.

Naturopath Lisa Fitzgibbon on a 'green walk' through the bush to improve sleep

Start sleep walking today

By regularly engaging in mild to moderate exercise, you are increasing your energy and your resilience to stress1. However, if you choose to do this outdoors — in the fresh air — then you will magnify the health benefits well beyond (just) your dreams 🙂

Note: Here’s another blog-post that I wrote about the wonders of walking: Walk this way

  1. Green-Space improves the diversity of your microbiome (your body bacteria)

    This is a good thing, because the more diverse your microbiome — the healthier you will be.

    The more we come into contact with nature the more we come into contact with different microbes — by breathing them in and by touching them.

    We are now discovering that being in Green-Space, not only has a positive influence on our mental wellbeing, but also has a positive influence on our physical wellbeing.

    Our microbiome regulates our immune system and our metabolic health, as well as decreasing inflammation throughout our body.

    Note: In up-and-coming blog-posts we’ll be looking more and more at why we need to improve our ‘microbial biodiversity’.

  2. Green-time improves mood

    Negative emotions improve significantly after walking in the forest2.

    But we kind of already knew this, didn’t we? We were taught this as kids. Our parents would say something lie: “Go outside into the fresh air. Take a walk. And don’t come back until you’re in a better mood!”

  3. At night-time you need it to be dark to sleep... But during the day you need it to be green

    Studies have shown that compared with walking on a city street, a short walk (just 17 mins in fact) in a GREEN environment, taken in the AFTERNOON, can promote an increase in sleep of up to 3 hours!3.

    The theory behind this is two-fold:

    It calms US. Walking in a Green-Space increases parasympathetic nerve (PNS) activity and therefore significantly decreases our heart rate.

    Note: The PNS is the calming branch of our autonomic nervous system; responsible for digestion, resting, and breeding. 

    It cools US. There is a decline in body temperature that occurs after afternoon exercise which acts as a signal to induce sleep at night.

    Note: If you must do intense exercise, then this is best done in the morning.

    Research shows that even living in a neighbourhood with a ‘green space’ can protect you from short sleep.4

    Note: I’ll have more to tell you about how to improve the quality of your sleep in a future blog-post post.

True colours

Blue-Space (rivers, lakes, sea) and Black-Space (the night sky) also improve our general health.

Blue-light from electronic devices, however, affects our sleep by disturbing your melatonin production. The solution to this is to either turn-off our devices after 8pm at night, or if we’re not willing to do this, to change the tone of the light on our devices. (If you have an iPhone 5s or later you can select ‘Night Shift’  – check out the link. If you know how to do the equivalent on other mobile devices then please comment below for my readers.)

Note: It is also ‘disturbing’ to note that, according to Professor Susan Prescott (a Professor of Paediatrics in the School of Paediatrics and Child Health at The University of Western Australia), industrial activity is affecting the night sky. The Milky Way is now hidden from more than 1/3 of humanity, due to ‘light pollution’. We (and our wildlife) need darkness at night for our mental, physical, social and community health.

Make an appointment with Lisa

Lisa Fitzgibbon is a degree qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. She runs her own private practice – OOMPH in Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand.

Lisa has been involved in the Natural Health industry for 16 years. She draws on her professional training and experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice.

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