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Breathing in fresh air and surrounding yourself with nature’s garden can increase your strength and boost your health.
Breathing in fresh air and surrounding yourself with nature’s garden can increase your strength and boost your health.

Health, Seven Days, Dr. Mao, Santa Monica

Dr. Mao's Wellness Central: Head Outside For Better Health And Fitness

Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Courtesy Photo
Dr. Mao Shing Ni

Posted Aug. 4, 2012, 11:00 pm

Dr. Mao Shing Ni / Mirror Columnist

You don’t have to be a gym buff to get your daily dose of exercise; take advantage of the great summer weather and head outside! The countless benefits of physical activity transcend the treadmill and surpass the stair climber. Engaging in exercise beyond our house’s four walls will free your mind and expand your horizons. Consider visiting Mother Nature the next time you put your sneakers on and go for fit!

Breathing in fresh air and surrounding yourself with nature’s garden can increase your strength and boost your health. Scientists in the Finnish Forest Research Institute reported that stress, anger, and aggression decrease when individuals are exposed to nature’s green environment. Spending more time outdoors can instantly improve your mood and help strengthen your immune system as well.

Save Money

Today’s economy makes joining a gym a challenge for your wallet. Taking your workout to the trees will save you from expensive membership and studio fees. In addition to cashing in, you have the leisure of exercising at any time. Mother Nature is open 24/7 and she won’t kick you out because you forgot to pay your dues! Other benefits include:

• Boost in energy from increased oxygen intake and more fresh air

• Reduced distractions from computers, phones, and televisions

• Escape from crowds of people waiting to use gym machines

• Improved sleep

• Stress-lessening benefits of a beautiful landscape

• Mental and physical stimulation from varied climates and temperatures

• Less monotony and more variety

Bonus tip: Take your meditation and visualization outdoors with Qi Meditations: Guided Visualizations for Self-Healing. Inhale fresh air and exhale your way to tranquility and renewed health with this guided breath work and visualizations to help you balance and cultivate your energy.

Germs Are Gone

One of the most important principles of health in Chinese medicine is the relationship between an individual and their environment. A walk in the park or a rejuvenating tai chi practice on the beach allows for renewed appreciation of the earth and all of its special elements. An added benefit to outdoor fun is reducing exposure to various germs. Health clubs and gyms usually have a high amount of foot traffic of people, increased perspiration, and increased skin exposure. In addition, much of the equipment may not be as clean as you would hope. In addition, when you exercise outside, you won’t have to breathe in harsh chemical disinfectants or other people’s perspiration.

Take Your Routine Outside

When you mix up your workout routine and take your usual gym activity outdoors, you can reap serious rewards. Try this on for size! A British study, comparing walking on a treadmill and walking in the park, showed a 71 percent drop in depression when individuals took their stroll in the park. Being outside can lead to more happiness down the road. Here are some ways you can take the fun outside:

• Walk it out. Instead of the treadmill, enjoy nature’s landscape by walking, hiking, or jogging outdoors.

• Bicycle for your life cycle. Get a better view when you cycle outside instead of using the stationary bike or stair climber.

• Swim with the fish. If you live near a beach or lake, consider taking a few laps by the shore and reap the benefits of the sea instead of indoor chlorinated pool water. Or walk in the soft sand, which can burn 20 percent to 50 percent more calories than walking on hard pavement. Try it out, it’s a real workout!

• Practice in the park. Take your Pilates, Tai Chi, or yoga practice to a park or beach instead of a crowded studio.

• Channel your inner kid and play outside! Tossing a Frisbee can help you burn between 100 and 250 calories in half an hour. Bounce on a trampoline, rock a Hula-Hoop, rollerskate, play some soccer, or take a canoe for a spin – have fun!

• Grow your garden. Enjoy gardening and landscaping and boost your health with beautiful flowers and plants.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine, and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors,” and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit

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