Being Outside Is Good For Your Health—But Does Golf Count?
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Being Outside Is Good For Your Health—But Does Golf Count?

There are many health benefits of spending time in nature—but what exactly does that mean?

By Betsy Morris
Tue, Mar 9, 2021Grey Clock 2 min

In response to our recent story about the health benefits of spending time in nature, readers wanted to know: What type of nature counts?

 

The bottom line

Lots of studies indicate it is good for you to spend time in the woods. But what about the beach? The garden? On a motorcycle? What about a golf course? What if you don’t walk the golf course but ride in a cart? What if you’re having a really frustrating game?

Though hundreds of studies convincingly suggest that spending time in nature is good for health and longevity, scientists still don’t know exactly why. “What really is it about ‘nature’ that makes us healthier? We can’t nail it down to one thing that is true for all people,” says Christopher Minson, a University of Oregon physiology professor and chief science officer of NatureQuant, a startup working on an app for users to track the time they spend in nature.

Take golf courses, for instance. Those count as nature because they are green space. Numerous studies have associated golf with improved health. But is that because of the exercise or the nature? “No research I’m aware of has directly investigated whether the health benefits to being on a golf course can be attributed to nature itself,” Dr. Minson says.

 

The details

Beach time? It is good for your physical and mental health, according to a growing body of research. Adults in England who live in coastal areas “tend to be happier and healthier than similar individuals inland,” according to a study published in the journal Environment International in 2019. That may be partly because they were more physically active. They took more walks. The difference in onland physical activity between those living less than 5 kilometres—or a little over 3 miles—from the coast and those living more than 50 kilometres was equal to cycling 14 to 40 minutes a week at 15km an hour, the researchers found.

That wasn’t the only reason, though, according to the study. People living inland near “blue spaces”—rivers and lakes—also reported greater health and happiness that wasn’t associated with physical activity.

No, you don’t have to be exercising to reap the benefits of nature.

The practice the Japanese call “forest bathing” is strongly linked to lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones and decreased anxiety, depression and fatigue. It also is linked to decreased inflammation. Many scientists believe the benefits aren’t due just to clean air and less noise, but the substances released from trees, plants and soil. Those include organic compounds, pollen, fungi and bacteria that contribute to the diversity of microorganisms humans need for a robust and diverse microbiome—all the tiny living things on us and in us that protect us from disease. So just breathing the fresh forest air may help strengthen our immune systems, according to a review published in February in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The benefits don’t just occur in forests. Scientists define nature as all sorts of environments dominated by living material, from a small urban park to the wilderness, according to research. Their definition of “nature exposure” ranges from plants in a room to camping trips to virtual reality.

That means you are likely to get some nature benefits from gardening, kayaking or even on a motorcycle, assuming it’s out in the country, says Dr. Minson. A lot more research is needed to know just how much.

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By Robyn Willis
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Treechangers seeking a home and income should take note of this west coast property in picturesque Pickering Brook in the Perth Hills, which comes with its own live-in residents.

Known as ‘the Margaret River of the Hills’ the area boasts stunning bushland while being just 30 minutes from all the amenity Perth has to offer.

With eight bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, this property is a home and business, operating as a thriving day spa, Hidden Valley Eco Lodges and Day Spa.

The private main residence is made of rammed earth for thermal comfort and has three bedrooms, luxurious bathroom and a large open plan living area. A private jacuzzi on the spacious entertaining deck is the perfect spot for enjoying beautiful bushland views at the end of a long day.

For day spa guests, there are four deluxe spa treatment rooms serviced by qualified staff, a reception area and lounge plus a commercial kitchen. Overnight guests can choose from five lodges with fully equipped kitchen and heated jacuzzi. As a going concern with a consistently high annual turnover, it’s a unique opportunity for the right buyer.

Set over 5.46ha, the property is also home to a very special group of residents: a small herd of alpacas, which are included in the sale.

Price guide: $6.5 million

Inspection: By expression of interest

Agent: Susanne Broido, The Agency 0499 770 237