Last month, my wife and I moved from our condo to our new home here on Galveston Island. With the move came a new experience for me as a homeowner: yard maintenance. We have a lovely home with a small rose garden that I planned on hiring someone to help with upkeep until I read this month’s Alternative and Complementary Therapies article with Dr. John La Pluma, on the importance of nature therapy.

Nature therapy can be described as anything from gardening, to forest bathing, animal-assisted (pet) therapy or full wilderness immersion. As someone who enjoys camping and mentoring through my work with the Royal Rangers Program, this article on nature therapy immediately called out to me. We know that on average, adults are looking at some form of an electronic screen for up to 11 hours a day. Children and teenagers aren’t much better. This has led to a new term known as Nature Deficit Disorder, which can be associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease, mood/anxiety disorders, concentration difficulties and burnout. While still preliminary, the research seems promising that taking time to be out in nature can improve health and quality of life. Dr. Pluma discussed that compared to walking in an urban setting, walking through a park or other natural scenery can help with memory, concentration, heart rate and blood pressure. Gardening can help improve diabetic control and decrease your risk of developing dementia. Looks like I need to pull out my gardening tools (if I can find what box they are in).

Dr. Samuel Mathis is an assistant professor in UTMB’s Family Medicine Deptartment.

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