Photo: Unlock the power of everyday nature

If you're among the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who spent part of the weekend celebrating Earth Day in nature, you're likely feeling relaxed, refreshed and re-energized.

I am. But my hypothesis about your state is based on more than personal experience. It's based on sound science.

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Researchers around the world arrive at the same conclusion: time in nature makes us smarter, healthier and happier.!

Regular immersion in a natural setting — like a park, woodland or forest — lowers blood pressure, anxiety and stress levels, and boosts immunity. "Green time" also reduces feelings of anger and depression, while increasing energy, creativity and attention span.

We know this intuitively. But to have it validated scientifically — well that's a breath of fresh of air!

According to Your Brain on Nature, by Drs. Alan Logan and Eva Selhub, the lure of electronic technology is largely to blame for our national nature deficit disorder.

That's half the equation. We're the other half!

We have to choose to make time in nature a priority — even on days with jam-packed schedules (or when "Glee" is on TV).

The benefits of taking time to soak up nature come back to us in spades. Imagine your workday (or your kids' school day) with a 20 per cent increase in short-term memory and a 50 per cent increase in creativity!

That's why I've joined the 30×30 Nature Challenge and committed to spend 30 minutes a day in nature for 30 days for the month of May. Join me!

Drs. Logan and Selhub say "sustainability of the planet is not merely about being a good citizen and recycling; it is ultimately about maintaining an intimate relationship with nature."

Let's be smarter, healthier and happier (and greener) every day — not just Earth Day!

Tovah Paglaro, Queen of Green

P.S. Tell me why you're signing up for the 30×30 Nature Challenge and you could win a copy of "Your Brain on Nature".

April 23, 2013

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Nov 15, 2013
7:02 AM

Oh I like this so much — we all need to get outdoors more and we need to recognize the nature that is close by — even in the park down the street!

Aug 14, 2013
11:32 AM

Congratulations Jonathan Riley! You are the winner of a copy of “Your Brain on Nature”! This contest is now closed.

May 01, 2013
9:51 AM

I’ve signed up for the 30 x 30 Challenge because I want to live a life that is more balanced, happy, and healthy. I have struggled with depression and have always found that being in nature has helped considerably. I will be writing a blog chronicling my experience with the 30 x 30 Challenge. I hope that it will inspire the people in my life to ignite their own love for nature. My Dad in particular lives a very stressful life and has experienced difficulties over the years, and I think that this challenge could really help him.

My parents come from a culture that has had a strong relationship with the natural world, but that tradition has been lost. All Canadians have an ancestral heritage involving balance and understanding with Mother Earth, whether we are Aboriginal, descendants of European settlers, or recent immigrants. I’m hopeful that we can regain that connection, and the 30 x 30 Challenge is one step forward in that direction.

Apr 24, 2013
7:51 AM

I work long hours at the desk (im a journalist) but try try try to get outside some to break up the day. This challenge might just give me the motivation to do it more often — plus ive got a leg up this month — im going for a weeklong canoe trip in Nova Scotia’s Tobeatic Wilderness Area for the second week of May … this is going to be a walk in the park — ha — you can use that :D

Apr 23, 2013
6:21 PM

I joined the 30x30 challenge because I am in downtown Montreal, with a sweet view of Mont-Royal out of my office window. This challenge is my cue to stop dreaming of its calming atmosphere, secluded paths and -sometimes cute- wildlfe and just go and enjoy it everyday. Done with the ‘I’ll go tomorrow’ attitude…. I need my dose of nature!

Apr 23, 2013
6:17 PM

I hope that people in jail get therapeutic time in nature too. No wait, I don’t even think there’s a law allowing them exposure to natural light or even a window.

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