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The Green Life: Proof That Exercising Outdoors Burns off the Blues

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May 26, 2010

Proof That Exercising Outdoors Burns off the Blues

Yoga Stuck in a rut? Feeling insecure? Just plain grumpy? Try exerting yourself – outdoors. In a recent issue of Environmental Science and Technology, University of Essex researchers report that what they call "green exercise" – that is, physical activity that happens in a place of nature – makes people happier and more self-confident.

After analyzing 1,252 individuals, the scientists found that after exercising outside, blood pressure lowers, mood improves, and self-esteem increases. What's more, these benefits were more pronounced than if the same amount of exercise was done indoors.

Examples of "green exercise" include strolling in a park, bicycling a nature trail, or kayaking a waterway. And, yes, gardening counts too.

The best part, perhaps, is that it doesn’t take much: according to the report, even a five-minute breather outside can improve long-term mental health.

--Sarah A. Henderson

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