Health & Fitness

Green space can boost your health

A hundred years ago, on Aug. 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service, providing protection for 35 established parks. Today, there are 407, from the most-visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with 10 million visitors a year, to the least-visited Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska, with only around 11,000 visitors annually.

Seems millions and millions of you know that getting into any park (even if it’s just part of a city block) is good for you. And science backs you up. A multicenter U.S.-Canada study found that “knowing and experiencing nature makes us healthier, happier people.” And a University of Rochester study found that being around green spaces not only reduces stress and makes you feel better, but makes you behave better, too!

How much green time do you need? Australian researchers say 30 minutes a week minimum is what it takes to relax and reduce your risk for high blood pressure and depression. If everyone did that, they say, the prevalence of HBP would decrease by 9 percent and depression by 7 percent.

Our recommendation for green-space health boosters: Spend 30-60 minutes (with a pedometer and a buddy) walking, five times a week. Head for 10,000 steps daily -- outside, when weather permits. (An after-dinner walk with the family is great!) Find a quiet spot and meditate for 10 minutes (instructions are at You’ll avoid what’s being called Nature Deficient Disorder, which is afflicting everyone from screen-bound kids to housebound elders.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit