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2 Orlando hospitals won't bill Pulse nightclub shooting survivors

Orlando Health and Florida Hospital won’t be charging victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting for their medical care, the hospitals said in statements Wednesday.

The hospitals have not sent any hospital or medical bills directly to patients and do not intend to make patients pay for what insurance won’t cover.

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The hospital said in a statement, "Orlando Health has not sent any hospital or medical bills directly to Pulse patients and we don’t intend to pursue reimbursement of medical costs from them. We are exploring numerous options to help the victims of the Pulse nightclub tragedy address immediate and ongoing medical costs. These include state and federal funds, private insurance, victim funds like the One Orlando fund, disability insurance, Florida’s crime victim compensation program, funding sources established for individual victims, means-tested programs like Medicaid, as well as charity care provided by Orlando Health. Even with these multiple funding sources, Orlando Health’s total unreimbursed costs could exceed $5 million."

Florida Health followed suit, saying it will not be billing for services.

"It was incredible to see how our community came together in the wake of the senseless Pulse shooting. We hope this gesture can add to the heart and goodwill that defines Orlando,” said the hospital’s CEO, Daryl Tol, in a statement.

Orlando Health treated 44 patients of the June 12 terror attack.

Forty-nine people were killed when gunman Omar Mateen opened fire inside the nightclub.  

Mom posts heartbreaking video of baby with whooping cough to stress importance of vaccines

An Australian mom's heartbreaking video of her 5-week-old daughter – along with a plea for parents to vaccinate their children – has gone viral.

This video may distress some people but I'm sharing to show just how scary and dangerous whooping cough is to babies who are too young to be vaccinated. This is my 5 week old baby during an episode where she chokes and stops breathing.  Babies rely on herd immunity to keep them safe and unfortunately we cannot achieve that without high vaccination rates. Whooping cough is not always a loud obvious cough. The scary symptom for babies is when they don't cough but silently choke and turn blue/purple from lack of oxygen. If we weren't in hospital and sitting watching our baby 24/7 the outcome would be fatal. Please don't ignore the warning signs- our baby girl only had a slight cough to start. Please share this to educate more people on the importance of vaccinations.Posted by Sandra Tee on Sunday, August 21, 2016

>> Watch the video here

In an Aug. 22 Facebook post, Sandra Tee of Sydney shared the video of her baby girl, Heidi, wearing an oxygen mask in the hospital.

"This video may distress some people, but I'm sharing to show just how scary and dangerous whooping cough is to babies who are too young to be vaccinated," Tee wrote. "This is my 5-week-old baby during an episode where she chokes and stops breathing. Babies rely on herd immunity to keep them safe, and unfortunately, we cannot achieve that without high vaccination rates."

She added, "Whooping cough is not always a loud obvious cough. The scary symptom for babies is when they don't cough but silently choke and turn blue/purple from lack of oxygen. If we weren't in hospital and sitting watching our baby 24/7, the outcome would be fatal."

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Tee told Inside Edition that Heidi caught the disease after her 3-year-old brother contracted it at day care. 

"Heidi is too young to be vaccinated and relies on others not to spread this disease," Tee told Inside Edition. "If everyone, at any age, is vaccinated, we may eradicate certain illnesses altogether."

Read more here.

Boy thrives one year after double hand transplant

A 9-year-old boy is thriving one year after becoming the world’s first double hand transplant recipient.

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When Zion Harvey was just 2 years old, he lost both his hands and legs to a deadly infection.

In July 2015, doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia successfully transplanted two new hands to Zion.

>> Child who had double hand transplant throws out MLB first pitch

After a year of grueling physical therapy, he’s now throwing baseballs, writing and playing Jenga.

“I’m very excited because now I can do more than I imagined, like throw a football, play baseball or, I don’t know, do a handstand,” Zion told NBC News. “So when I got my hands, it’s like, here’s the piece of my life that was missing. Now it’s here. Now my life is complete.”

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The recovery process is long, but Zion has regained sensation in his hands, and his brain is re-learning how to use them. He says he couldn’t be more happy with the results.

“Before you quit and say, ‘I give up,’ try everything first,” Zion said.

10 Signs You're Watching Too Much Television

Many people claim that they don't have time to work out or cook healthy meals, yet they do find the time to park themselves in front of the TV. In fact, the average American watches 31.5 hours of TV per week, according to a 2010 Nielsen report. That's almost as many hours as most of us spend working! That's a lot of hours that could be spent shopping for and preparing nutritious meals, hitting the gym or even taking up a new hobby. If you think your loyalty to your favorite TV shows could be interfering with your life—or your pursuit of health—then read on. 10 Signs You're Watching Too Much TV 1. You've turned into a hermit. If you can't commit to a night out with your friends because you don't want to miss the latest episode of your favorite show—or even one of your top 10 favorite shows—you may have an addiction to TV. Hanging out with friends can combat loneliness and put you in a better mood. Plus, time with buddies may even help you live longer, according to the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. So don't banish your buddies just because you love that show about people who fish with their bare hands. Set the DVR—or if you're old-fashioned, program the VCR—and head out with your friends. Even better: Go for a walk with your pals to get your heart pumping. 2. There's a dent in your couch where your butt usually goes. If your couch is looking increasingly lopsided, it might be a sign that you're spending too much time parked on its cushions. Don't just flip them over or switch your position to fix the problem—get off the couch! There are numerous exercises that can be done with little or no equipment while you watch TV—think jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, squats and lunges—or you can crank up your treadmill while you catch up on the latest episode of Real Housewives. Choose an hourlong show to get moving to, or if you'll be camped out for a while watching a marathon, get moving during commercial breaks instead of heading to the kitchen for that snack. 3. Your dog jumps onto the couch and looks at you with sad puppy dog eyes when you don't join her. If even your dog has gotten used to your nightly routine of snuggling on the couch while watching Animal Planet, it may be time to break away from the boob tube. Take your faithful furry friend for a long walk—you'll both benefit from the exercise and the change of scenery! 4. You find yourself ordering out so you have more time to veg. If you're calling for pizza delivery or stopping to get takeout on the way home so that you won't have to bother with groceries or cooking, it might be a red flag. Skip a show or two so you'll have time to make that healthy meal before getting comfortable for an evening in. Healthy cooking can even be quick and easy! 5. Your TV tray has a permanent spot in your living room. If you eat all of your meals in front of the television, it might mean you're a little too addicted to cable. Not only does TV make it easier to zone out and overeat, but you're not interacting with the family or friends during meals (invite them over if you're living the single life). 6. You lift up the couch cushions, and popcorn and crumbs have multiplied. This is another sign that you're vegging out too much—and eating mindlessly while you do. When you don't even realize that a bucket of popcorn has fallen onto the couch, how can you keep track of how much you're actually consuming? 7. You get up from the TV after hours and have no idea what you've been watching. We're all guilty of this sometimes. You flip around mindlessly, channel surfing until something catches your attention. You stop there until a commercial sends you on your merry way and you repeat this process for hours on end. If you find yourself doing this and you're the type that doesn't feel like they have time to eat right or exercise, you need to prioritize. Be honest with yourself and pick your top three can't-miss television shows and schedule workouts with the importance previously given to your show schedule. Or set a daily limit for yourself—two hours of TV and then it's on to something new. Set a timer if you have to! 8. Commercials have become your culinary inspiration. If you're craving fast food because you saw that Burger King commercial, it might be a sign that you're saturating your brain with advertisements! When you don't watch TV, you'll see far fewer fast food ads. Although most people claim that advertising "doesn't work" on them, marketers know better. You'll think about fries, seasonal shakes, and new must-try gut-busting burgers far less if you aren't exposed to their TV ads. 9. You find yourself thinking that you could star in your own reality TV show. News flash: There are about a million reality shows flooding the market already, and I've yet to see one starring someone who camps out in front of the TV all day! If you want to be a show worth making, go on a get-healthy streak à la The Biggest Loser or plan big, like running a marathon or trying a vegetable for every letter of the alphabet. Hey, I'd watch. 10. You don't have time to exercise, but you do make time to sit on the couch. That stat mentioned above about the 31.5 hours of TV per week is staggering. That's like another full-time job! If you have time to watch even 30 minutes of TV per night, then you have time to exercise—it's just that you are prioritizing the TV viewing higher on your list. Put down the remote and try to go TV-free for a couple of weeks, and use that time to get active and healthy. You'll feel so much better that we doubt you'll trade working out for couch surfing ever again! If you recognize yourself in this list—whether it's one or all 10—it may be time to admit you have a problem. Luckily, the TV habit can be broken and your life will get a lot healthier. TV definitely has its place in the modern world, but so do healthy habits! Sources: Nielsen. "2010 Media Industry Fact Sheet," Accessed September 2011. www.blog.nielsen.com. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Giles LC, Glonek GF, Luszcz MA, Andrews GR. "Effect of social networks on 10 year survival in very old Australians: the Australian longitudinal study of aging," Accessed September 2011. www.jech.bmj.com.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1666

12 Heart-Smart Tips You Haven't Heard

When I flip my calendar to February, two things usually come to my mind. One, I’m getting tired of the cold and snowy winter, and two, Valentine’s Day is coming. Now, I don’t know how you feel about this “holiday," but I like it. Red happens to be my favorite color, and I love seeing all the decorations in stores. I look forward to reading the articles in magazines about celebrating our relationships, and how best to tell those who mean the most to you that you care. And even though baking is not my thing, I find it fun to read the Valentine’s Day recipes and see the heart-shaped cakes and cupcakes in the bakeries. Regardless of how you feel about Valentine’s Day, hearts are everywhere, and February is also American Heart Month. Although we think of the heart as the vehicle of emotions, that job really belongs to our minds. The heart’s job is to keep us alive by pumping vital oxygen-enriched blood to every cell of our body, doing all the jobs that keep us functioning. With such an important role, it’s essential to do all we can to keep our hearts healthy and strong. There is a common misconception that heart attacks only occur in men, but in fact, heart disease afects 6.5 million women. Many believe that cardiovascular disease has such a strong genetic component, that there is little you can do to prevent the inevitable. Please don’t fall into this faulty thinking. There is an old expression that states: “Genetics loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.” We cannot underscore the importance of good nutrition and exercise. The heart is a muscle, and the more it works, the stronger it gets. A heart-healthy diet is one filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, low-fat protein, and healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. It happens to be the same diet that is recommended to reduce the risk of so many other diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and vascular diseases, which of course, all raise your risk of heart disease. Although exercise and a healthy diet top this list, here are twelve interventions you should embrace to protect your heart. Some will be familiar and serve as a good reminder, and others will surprise you. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to take the best possible care of yourself. Begin with strengthening the most important muscle in your body, your heart.

  • Adhere to a consistent exercise program and follow a heart-healthy diet. If you need help, talk to your doctor, hire a personal trainer, and/or enlist the services of a dietitian or certified wellness coach. Do whatever it takes.  
  • Lose excess weight safely, which means slowly. Maintaining a healthy body weight is known to reduce your risk of heart disease. However, crash dieting repeatedly, very-low calories diets (VLCD), cleansings and fasts have all been shown to weaken the immune system and damage heart muscles, thus increasing the threat of developing heart disease.  
  • Develop a robust circle of friends and loved ones and nurture those relationships. Studies have shown that people who lack a strong network of friends and family are at a greater risk of developing and dying from heart disease. If loneliness plagues you, developing good relationships will not only increase your happiness, but will make you healthier. Consider signing up for volunteer work. Take a class that interests you. Meetup.com is a great website that lists interest groups by geographic areas and has so many groups that you are sure to find a new social circle.  
  • Brush, floss and rinse everyday. It’s not just about sweet-smelling breath and pearly whites: Gum disease has been linked to heart problems. Make sure you keep on top of professional cleanings at your dentist’s office twice a year.  
  • Get a good night's sleep. Researchers have found that the chronically sleep-deprived increase their likelihood of developing heart disease. Aim for a minimum of seven hours a night.  
  • Reduce your intake of sodium by reading food labels and choosing lower-sodium items. Avoiding the salt shaker will only make a small dent in your daily sodium intake, since the majority of salt we consume comes from processed foods we purchase. Consistently exceeding the recommended daily sodium threshold of 2,400 milligrams raises the danger of developing high blood pressure, often a precursor to heart disease.  
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes, or do everything in your power to stop, if you do. Although we tend to associate smoking with lung problems and cancer, it also plays a role in cardiovascular disease. Smoking is a major cause of atherosclerosis, which is the build up of fatty substances on the arteries. This narrowing results in a decrease of oxygen-rich blood flow to the heart muscle. Over time, if one or more of the arteries that lead to the heart get totally blocked, a heart attack may occur.  
  • Talk to your doctor about antioxidant vitamin supplements and/or baby aspirin as a defense against heart disease and heart attack. However, no matter what your doctor may recommend, vitamins won't prevent the development of heart disease if you don't control your other risk factors, such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes.  
  • Adopt a pet. Individuals who own animals have a live-in, stress-reducing pal and often have lower blood pressures. If that pet happens to be a dog, you also have a great exercise buddy.  
  • Learn and practice stress management skills. If you find yourself saying, “this stress is killing me!” you may not be exaggerating. Chronic stress has been linked with decreasing the immune system, and increasing the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. Daily meditation, exercise, journaling and “me” time have all been shown to considerably reduce the amount and intensity of daily stress.  
  • Drink green tea and treat yourself to dark chocolate on Valentine’s Day, or any day. Antioxidants in green tea improve blood vessel function, and eating a small amount of dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and reduce the inflammation that leads to cardiovascular disease.  
  • Decrease daily negativity and increase your positivity. Mountains of research exist to show that an abundance of negative emotions such as anger and stress affect cardiovascular health, and positive emotions such as joy, gratitude and love boost our immune systems. By remaining positive, you’ll not only make life more fun, you’ll be taking care of your heart.

 

Sources American Heart Association Circulation. "Antioxidant Vitamin Supplements and Cardiovascular Disease," accessed January 2012. http://circ.ahajournals.org. Cleveland Clinic. "Heart and Vascular Health and Prevention," accessed January 2012. www.my.clevelandclinic.org. Fredrickson, Barbara. 2009. Positivity. New York: Crown Publishers. American Medical Association. 2008. Guide to Preventing Heart Disease. New Jersey: John Riley & Sons, Inc. Harvard Health Publications. "Gender Matters: Heart Disease Risk in Women," accessed January 2012. http://www.health.harvard.edu. Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1716

Finding Time for Healthy Living

You've made the decision to get in shape, lose weight or just live a healthier lifestyle. But you're worried about how you'll manage to find the time to get to the gym, shop and cook healthy foods, or even how you'll keep your goals in mind with so many other things already on it. Your concerns are certainly valid. As a matter of fact, one of the most common statements I hear from colleagues and friends is, "When things calm down, I really need to start taking better care of myself." Here's the thing: If you are living a full and happy life, it is more often busy than not. And when you have so much to do, doesn't it make sense to take care of yourself and feel well? There's no debating that you will need to dedicate some time to self-care, but it shouldn't mean you will have to drop your friends, ignore your family or neglect your business. Here are some suggestions of how to create more time for healthy living. Eating well for good health and/or weight loss requires you to have nutritious foods available and make wise choices when eating out. Here are some ways to make the most of your meals when you're short on time. Take a few minutes at the beginning of the week to think through your upcoming schedule. How many days will you be home for dinner, and what will you prepare? Do Monday morning meetings always last through lunch? If so, it makes sense to bring a brown bag lunch that day. Will you head to the gym straight from the office and need to bring a healthy snack to fuel you through your workout and hold you over until dinner? Once you have a picture of your week, create your grocery list and plan when you'll head to the store. This extra step will save you tons of time by avoiding multiple trips to the market, or standing in line at the take-out eateries on your way home. At the market, consider purchasing healthy convenience foods. There are so many to choose from these days. Fresh vegetables, salad greens and fruit are available pre-cleaned and cut. Old-fashioned frozen dinners have been recreated to be low-cal, low- sodium, even vegetarian or gluten-free. Check the labels and know which ones to keep in your freezer for nights when you don't have the time to cook. Although you may think these options cost more, they are less expensive than eating in restaurants, buying take-out, or high blood pressure and high cholesterol medicines that often are required after years of unhealthy choices. If you prefer to avoid the expense of pre-cut fruits and vegetables, invest in crisper storage containers. Spend a little bit of time washing and cutting produce on the weekends, in order to save loads of prep time during the week. Call your local supermarket in advance of your visit and give the deli, meat and fish counter your order over the phone. They'll have everything ready and packaged for you, saving you time from waiting in line. If you really don't have the time to shop, many supermarkets now have online ordering and delivery options. Not only will they save your weekly shopping list so you can go back to check off your frequently purchased options, they'll let you know which of your favorites are on sale. Check out online food co-ops, produce and dairy markets. Many have memberships that will deliver fresh and/or organic goods on a scheduled basis. Equip your kitchen with time-saving devices. A slow cooker allows you to quickly throw together ingredients the night before. Plug it in to cook in the morning and a hot prepared dinner is ready when you return home. A microwave will reheat leftovers or frozen healthy choices. An immersion blender quickly makes soups from frozen veggies or smoothies out of frozen fruit. When you do cook, double the recipes. Keep old take out containers or purchase freezer-to-oven pans and create your own TV dinners or a second meal for the following week. On days when you have a meal out, keep in mind that the average restaurant serves two to three times the appropriate portion size. Ask for a take-out container and pack away half for lunch or dinner at another time. Now you've kept to a healthy portion size and you don't need to take time out to prepare another meal the next day. Fitting in movement and exercise requires the same proactive thinking as eating healthy. If you are going to join a gym, make sure it is conveniently located near your home or office. No matter how fabulous the gym in the next town is, if it takes too long to get to, you won't go when you're pressed for time. Home exercise equipment is the best investment for the truly time pressed or those who simply dislike the gym atmosphere. You won't waste time traveling back and forth, and could pair your daily sessions with another activity you enjoy. Addicted to the evening sitcoms or news? Do your exercise while watching. You know you would take the time to get that one episode in anyway, what a great way to multitask! Need to catch up on trade journals? All cardio equipment today is equipped with a reading stand. When squeezing in a formalized exercise session still seems impossible to do, know that several short bursts of activity has been shown to add up to great benefit. Whenever possible, take the stairs rather than the elevator, walk to your co-worker's office to deliver messages rather than emailing. Use the restrooms on another floor. Purchase and wear a pedometer. Measuring the number of steps you take each day can be highly motivating. Without even thinking about "taking the time out to exercise" you might just reach the 10,000 steps a day to achieve health benefits. Suggest business meetings at the local walking track rather than the boardroom. Your colleagues may be delighted to squeeze in their activity as well, plus fresh air and being in nature has been proven to improve mood and creativity. Combine exercise with family time. Rather than an outing to the movies, consider the roller or ice skating rink, miniature golf course, park or town pool. You and the kids will both get your exercise and quality time together. You don't have to sacrifice time with your friends to get in a workout. Suggest an active happy hour after work rather than heading to the local bar. Go bowling, or join a baseball, basketball or soccer team. For the really ambitious, train together for an upcoming race. Let go of your "all or nothing" exercise attitude. If you think a 10 or 15 minute workout is "pointless" when you don't have time for a full hour, think again. Every minute counts toward improving your fitness level, reducing stress and strengthening your heart and muscles. Plus a minute spent exercising always beats a minute spent sedentary. Stress reduction and sleep are important to self-care and a healthy lifestyle, but too often neglected when life is frantic. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to ease stress and takes a mere 30 seconds. Begin to notice the physical signs you experience when stress is mounting. Neck tension, back pain, and queasy stomach are common. Stop what ever you are doing and take a few deep, cleansing breaths. A mantra such as "breathe" or "stay calm" may help. Stress leads to inefficiency and mistakes that then take more time to redo and correct. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, exacerbate illness and injuries and lead to lots of time spent at the doctor's office or home in bed. Take time regularly to manage your stress to avoid massive loss of time later. Experiment with what works best for you. Ten minutes of daily meditation, a weekly massage or just an evening out each week with your honey can go a long way to keeping you healthy. When you find yourself thinking "I don't have time for this" remind yourself how time consumed being sick or depressed is! Many people believe they can gain more time by skimping on sleep. I hope you are not one of them! Just as too much stress will lead to more mistakes, inefficiency, depressed immune system and increased injury and illness, so will lack of sleep. Although an occasional night of reduced sleep won't have long lasting effects, a constant diet of sleep deprivation will. Trying to function on too little sleep will end up causing you to waste time rather than save it. Chronic stress and sleep deprivation have also been proven to hinder weight loss. So if you are in hurry to see the pounds melt away, get your sleep and take time to relax, unwind and rejuvenate. With some proactive thinking and creativity, creating time for healthy living should not be an insurmountable problem. Self-care can compliment and fit seamlessly into your lifestyle. Sources: American Heart Association. Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York. "Fitting in Fitness: Hundreds of Simple Ways to Put More Physical Activity into Your Life." IL: Human Kinetics. Tribole E. "Eating on the Run—Third Edition." Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Siobhan Banks, Ph.D. and David F. Dinges, Ph.D. Banks S, Dinges DF. "Behavioral and Physiological Consequences of Sleep Restriction," Accessed August 2011. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1664

Why Getting Outside is So Good for You

John Keats once wrote, "The poetry of the earth is never dead." Poet or not, almost all of us have been awestruck by nature at one time or another. Whether it's running at sunset on a sandy white beach, walking alongside a cool trickling stream, watching sunset over a mountain ridge, or even hearing the wind blow through the trees in the morning, being outdoors and aware of the world's beauty can make you feel energized and alive. Recently, much research has focused on the so-called "nature connection," and how it affects our health, outlook and overall life. Nature's Healing Powers It seems that just being out in nature does your body, mind and soul some good. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the closer you live to nature, the healthier you're likely to be. The study took an objective look at 345,143 Dutch people's medical records, assessing health status for 24 conditions, including cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological diseases. The records were then correlated with how much green space was located within 1 kilometer and 3 kilometers of a person's postal code. And what did researchers find? People who lived within 1 kilometer of a park or a wooded area experienced less anxiety and depression than those who lived farther away from green space. Additionally, people living in urban environments had a higher prevalence of 15 of the 24 conditions, with the relationship strongest for anxiety disorder and depression. It's interesting to note that the green space's health benefits were only found when they were within a kilometer (not 3 kilometers away), except for anxiety disorders, gastrointestinal digestive disorders and other medically unexplained physical symptoms, according to the research. Live in a city with no green space nearby? No worries! Other studies by researchers in England and Sweden have found that joggers who exercise in a natural green setting with trees, foliage and landscape views, feel more restored, and less anxious, angry and depressed than those runners who burn the same amount of calories in gyms or other urban settings. So even if you have to drive a few miles to find a little green, it's worth it! Why Does Nature Do the Body So Good? So what is it about nature that makes us so much healthier? And what is about outdoor exercise that is better than working out in a gym? While there are many theories as to why being in nature makes us healthier, one leading hypothesis is that being outside increases our Vitamin D intake. We just keep learning more and more about how important vitamin D is for health, including preventing cancer, hormonal problems, obesity, and inflammation, and having a strong immune system. Because sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, it only seems logical that spending more time in outside would increase your vitamin D intake. Being in a natural setting can also help increase your quality of sleep, as studies show that natural sunlight helps set the body's internal clock that tells us when to eat and sleep, and normalizes hormonal functions that occur at specific times of the day. And we all know how important sleep is not just for our health, but even for our weight loss! Enjoying the outdoors also gives us a break from technology and the on-the-run lifestyle to which we're all so accustomed. When we're outside, we have a clearer, more focused mindset to hang out with friends, or spend some quiet time alone or even play with a pet.  (Remember: Pets can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). When we're outside, we can also learn and enjoy a new skill or physical activity. And perhaps most important of all, we get a chance to turn off—or better, leave behind—our cell phones to clear our heads and break from the stress we all have each and every day. How Much Green Exercise Is Enough? So how much green time do you need? Not much, recent research says. According to the American Chemical Society's journal Environmental Science & Technology, as little as five minutes exercising in a park, working in a backyard garden, hiking on a nature trail, or even sitting in a plant-filled setting will benefit your mental health. From researchers' analysis of 1,252 people of different ages, genders and mental health status performing walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming, the greatest health changes occurred in the young and the mentally ill, although people of all ages and social groups benefited. All natural environments benefited study participants, including parks in urban settings. However, green areas with water were especially beneficial, as were environments that were both green and blue (think of a green tree on a bright blue sky). Fun Ways to Get Outside Ready to get out there? Here are seven easy ways to enjoy the benefits of nature!

  1. Make being outside a ritual. Go for a morning or evening walk every day. And if you have one, bring your pooch—outdoor exercise is good for Fido, too.
  2. Try gardening. From a planting vegetable garden to planting a few flowers, both activities get you outside regularly and communing with nature.
  3. Take vacations in beautiful places. For your next scheduled break, visit a state or national park or go to a beautiful beach—whatever landscape speaks to you!
  4. Find a trail. Whether hiking or biking is your speed, there are trails around the country for you to explore. Find one near you at trails.com.
  5. Sit outside. We're always so on-the-go. The next time you need a break, try sitting outside quietly and just appreciate the natural beauty around you! Notice the scents, sights and sounds as you sit quietly and focus on the moment.
  6. Go to a local park. Ask others in your neighborhood which park is their favorite to visit. Then the next time the weather is good, trade your usual gym workout for an outdoor one!
  7. Commit to the outdoors, rain or shine. When you're layered properly, you can enjoy the outdoors in any season, cold, wet or hot. Don't forget about the fun and healthy outdoor activities available during the rainy or cold months—these are the times that we have even less outdoor interaction, but may be when we need it the most!  
So the next time you have the opportunity to get outside for a brisk walk or a workout, take the chance to soak in that Mother Nature! What's your favorite exercise to do outside? How does it make you feel?   Sources Gardner, Amanda. "Being Near Nature Improves Physical, Mental Health," accessed May 2011. www.usatoday.com.   Louv, Richard. "The Powerful Link Between Conserving Land and Preserving Health," accessed May 2011. www.childrenandnature.org.   National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Sleep. "Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep," accessed May 2011. www.ninds.nih.gov.   National Centers for Infectious Diseases. "Health Benefits of Pets," accessed May 2011. www.cdc.org.   Science Daily. "In the Green of Health: Just 5 Minutes of 'Green Exercise' Optimal for Good Mental Health," accessed May 2011. www.sciencedaily.org.  Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1680

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