JOE BLACK: Take advantage of all the green spaces that surround us | Joe Black
I was in a funk earlier this week. I had no right to be depressed – I had just returned from a wonderful beach vacation. I am healthy. I am happy. So what was wrong with me?
I have no idea, but it was real. I didn’t even want to do my weekly bike ride on Tuesday afternoon. My mountain biking buddy was in Utah and another was in Charleston, but their absence was just an excuse. I didn’t want to ride.
I actually didn’t want to do much. Honestly, the job didn’t interest me. I had mowed the day before so I didn’t have this to do – something I find remedial.
But a friend I spoke to said best: Go for a ride. So I did. My ATV was in the truck and I had brought clothes for it so I had no more excuses.
I headed for the mountains even though my heart was still not there. And you know what? It worked. Two hours in the mountains on my mountain bike, alone, with barely a living soul on the trails, rejuvenated me, restored me.
After coming back to cell range, I called my wife and admitted my discomfort, then told her how miraculously the mountains had healed me. And since then I have been fine.
Later that night I read a few articles in Outside magazine on the value of green spaces. One article judged cities based on the amount of green space available. Blount County was not on the list, but it appeared to be big city-oriented. I bet if small areas were eligible our beloved county would have.
After all, about a third of the county is in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And if you ever hover over it, you mostly see green. Even in the cities.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about our Greenbelt, how it has been a valuable asset to all of us. To free. Easy. Practice..
The magazine’s second article talked about the health benefits of green spaces. He touched on the value of walking among the trees.
We know the benefits of walking and regular exercise – God knows I’ve preached this sermon in this space what seems like a million times – and it makes sense to know that we’re healthier and happier. if we go outside from time to time.
It is also no exaggeration to understand that our mental health benefits from walking in green spaces. Maybe the fresh air and the blue sky. Maybe a bubbling stream. The chirping of birds. No electronic devices.
But this article was about the physical health benefits of walking among trees. And that quantified it! He cited a ton of research which concluded that our physical health is better after walking in the park or in the forest for 120 minutes a week.
Two o’clock! Research clearly tells us that you will live longer. May Alzheimer’s patients live healthier lives for those 120 minutes a week. Many medical illnesses improve because of this.
God damn it, we can all do this! We live in the best place in the country to do it, with miles of trails in the Smokies and a greenbelt system the envy of communities around the world.
All we have to do is enjoy what is literally outside our door.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physiotherapist and athletic trainer in Total Rehabilitation at Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to Joe at [email protected]