There is no doubt in my mind that our health and wellness is closely tied to our relationship with the natural environment. When the daily stresses of my life begin to build up, I often realize that it has been a while since I have been outside. When I do become aware of this and finally make it out to hike, bike or kayak around the East End, my mood improves and I actually feel healthier. Coincidence? I think not.
In early October, I joined Dr. Caroline Fierro of the Anti-Aging & Family Wellness Group in Southampton to chat about health, wellness and the environment on Bonnie Grice’s “Radio Lounge,” which airs weekday mornings on . Dr. Fierro approaches patient treatment by looking at the whole picture, examining everything from diet to daily habits. She said she sometimes prescribes her patients go outside for a walk, or sit down under a tree and just take in the environment.
Dr. Fierro and other medical specialists are not alone when they say our health is closely tied to our connection with nature. Health and wellness is not just about exercising, either! A 2005 study in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research concluded that people who exercised while being exposed to pleasant natural environments showed an improvement in mood as well as a lower blood pressure compared to those exercising in indoors or in unpleasant urban environment.
Though we have been fortunate with summer-like temperatures extending into this fall, we will surely enter the real winter season over the next couple of months. You can fight the winter doldrums by making time to go outside everyday and experience nature. Be aware of the sunlight, breathe in the fresh air, look at your natural surroundings, get moving, and reduce your stress level to be a healthier person.
The good news is you do not have to do it alone. Group for the East End schedules various outdoor experiences, even during the winter. Join us, or your local hiking group, for a guided tour and see what nature has to offer — just be sure to bundle up! To find out more, visit www.eastendenvironment.org and click on “Explorations” under the “Explore” tab.
Group for the East End is a nonprofit organization that protects and restores eastern Long Island’s environment through education, citizen action and professional advocacy. We inspire people to embrace a conservation ethic. Support our work or find out more at www.eastendenvironment.org.
 Pretty J, et al (2005). International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 15(5):319-37.