Rediscover a love of nature

By Benalla Ensign

As daylight savings approaches and the weather gets warmer, LiveLighter and Parks Victoria are encouraging Victorians to rediscover their love of nature to improve their health and wellbeing.

According to LiveLighter research, one in two Australians say they have a park within five minutes’ walk from their home, in Benalla that figure would be closer to one in one.

Despite this, less than a third of Victorians visit parks and open spaces more than once a week.

LiveLighter program manager Alice Bastable says daylight savings is a chance to exercise more and make the most of the surroundings.

‘‘Our research shows that while more than half of Aussies prefer to exercise outdoors, we’re still not making the most of the beautiful parks on our doorsteps,’’ Ms Bastable said.

‘‘As daylight savings begins, it’s a perfect opportunity to fall even more in love with nature and make the most of longer days, brighter mornings and more pleasant weather.’’

Research from Parks Victoria and Deakin University has revealed that being in contact with nature can reduce the risk of lifestyle-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression and anxiety — all of which are among the fastest growing health conditions in Victoria.

After a long cold winter, Parks Victoria health and community activation manager Shauna Jones said now was the time to step outside and enjoy the countless health benefits that came from being in nature.

‘‘I urge everybody to get out there and soak up some nature — whether it’s a nearby park or one of our natural state parks,’’ Ms Jones said.

‘‘Spending time outdoors encourages people to become more active and can help us reduce stress levels, recover faster from illnesses and injuries, and improve mental wellbeing.

‘‘It also has positive effects on our ability to learn, solve problems and be creative.’’

Ms Bastable said regular physical activity was one of the best things you could do for your own and your family’s health.

‘‘School-age kids thrive best when they have one hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise every day,’’ she said.

And adults should also be clocking up between two-and-a-half and five hours of moderate intensity exercise every week.

Despite this four out of five people are still not meeting their regular exercise goals.

‘‘The benefits of physical activity go beyond maintaining a healthy weight, so Victorians should aim to hit the recommended daily amount of exercise,’’ Ms Bastable said.