Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Submit Your Soul to the 'Green Machine'

 Changes:  An unexpected change can be like a breath of fresh air ~
a little brisk at first...but magic for body and soul!
(from a novel by Susan Biggs)

“Get outside each day...and you'll feel less stressed,”
say Drs. Oz and Roizen in an August 16th issue of the Spectator.

The following are excerpts from a Health article written by
Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Getting up close and personal with Mother Nature yields big mind-body benefits. A walk in the park is a great lunchtime activity, but new reports reveal that even desk jockeys and folks with little time (or no great love for the great outdoors) can reap the rewards of a green environment with only a few plants around their workplace and in their home. You need a little green-time every...or almost every day to reap its amazing benefits for your brain and body. 

Stronger Immunity:  In a Japanese study, levels of protective natural killer cells that battle viruses and some forms of cancer rose 40% when business men and women spent time walking in the woods.  But you can get a similar immune boost from...sniffing forest scents...indoors. 
A Break from Worry:  Getting outside when you're feeling stressed improves mood and boosts short-term memory.  And if you're depressed, getting out and about makes it five times more likely you'll feel better than if you stayed indoors.  Combine natural scenery with exercise  and you're really going to amp up your mood boosters.
More Energy:  Office workers feel more energetic with a green plant or two nearby and they become more productive.  Your smart move ~ place some greenery where you can see it when you look up from your computer.
Higher Creativity:  Brain scans suggest immersing yourself in a natural scene, whether 3-D  or in a picture, turns up brain activity in areas that govern pleasure and emotion.  You'll feel more relaxed...and balanced...and improve your creativity  by as much as 50%.

Ready to go green?  Here's how:
Got a minute? Stand under a tree...or park yourself next to one.  Even better, walk around a bush or beside a blooming garden. The more greenery you're exposed to...the better brain benefits.
Don't feel like exercising outdoors?  Go anyway!  Compared with slogging on that treadmill in the basement, doing the same stroll or jog  under blue skies  and leafy green tree boughs can add a 12% mood boost to  your exercise.  And don't let rain stop you.  Even getting outside in bad weather boosts mood more than an indoor workout.
Stuck at your desk?  Call up images of nature on your computer.  Simply looking at pictures of the outdoors can make you feel friendlier.  While you're at it, listening to soothing water and tweeting birds helps you rebound from a stressful experience 33% faster.  Check out archive.org's free “Sounds of Nature Collection.”
Take time to smell the pine trees:  Japanese scientists say sniffing scents (like pine and cypress) is one reason why nature walks strengthen immunity ~ a new reason to enjoy these smells.
Create an indoor nature retreat:  Although we are big fans of the benefits of of outdoor physical activity, you can reap green benefits if you get on a treadmill with a view out the gym window!  And position your home exercise equipment and a comfy chair so you have a view of outside greenery!  There's plenty of evidence that simply...seeing greenery...reduces stress, increases mental focus and fuels good moods. 
But don't stop there! Invite house plants into your home.
Live plants can keep your home humidified...
remove carbon dioxide from the air...and send out revitalizing oxygen.
Most do this by day...as they convert sunlight into energy.

Street Tree Project
People in some of Hamilton’s most polluted neighbourhoods are breathing a little easier, thanks to the work by Randy Kay and the group at the Hamilton Street Tree Project. Recently, he was named Volunteer Hamilton’s Community Builder of the Year.  He said his work wasn’t about winning awards, or even how many trees are planted every year, but about the long-term impact on neighbourhoods with worst air quality.  More than 80 trees were planted in Crown Point  last year.  The year before, about 70 trees were planted in the Keith area.  “The impact on these areas in 20 years will be tremendous.”

Randy Kay, an environmental and clean air advocate in the city for years, dreamed up the Street Tree Project three years ago while looking at Google satellite maps of Hamilton  What he saw, struck a chord.  You could see the difference  when looking at Ancaster or Dundas…you could see GREEN ~ but other neighbourhoods were all grey.

Kay, who is co-ordinator of volunteers for the Ontario Public Interest Research Group at McMaster University, decided to connect the university’s student volunteers with the city’s existing tree planting  program.  Students went door to door promoting the tree planting and the group hit immediate success.  Kay said the group will be back again this summer, canvassing an even wider section of the north end and hoping  to top the 80 trees planted last year.

Strength in Numbers
Volunteers fill buckets with cedar mulch to be used as bedding around newly-planted trees at Churchill Park, Saturday morning as part of Earth Day celebrations.  About 400 volunteers helped plant more than 1,000 saplings…of 26 native species to replace the  dying Norwegian  Maples and European Buckthorn which were cut out of the area earlier this week.  (Photo in Spectator depicts 5 or 6 of these volunteers with shovels amid existing healthy trees…as they plant these saplings for new growth in the neighbourhood.)
Volunteers make a difference..
Volunteers make any city a better place.
Hamilton has one of the highest percentages of volunteers in Canada.

Pearl of Wisdom
May you always walk in the sunshine, My Friend.
May you always have Love to share...
Health to spare...and Friends that care.
(Native adage)

Crafted by Merle Baird-Kerr…April 20, 2015
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  1. JEANNE COMMENTS: "Terrific piece, Merle. Maybe it's all my house plants that have kept me going all these years?
    I never can seem to get rid of them.
    In fact, I keep rooting new ones."

  2. Thank you, Jeanne, for your personal comment.
    "Talking to your plants" is good for body, mind and spirit.
    We are all inhabitants of Earth!