Human adult heart pumps 7600 liters of blood per day. Heart, and its components (heart arteries, valves, chambers), blood vessels, veins, capillaries are part of the cardiovascular system. There are many condition that can compromise smooth blood flow through capillaries, such as narrowing of the heart vessels (coronary artery disease), abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias, heart valve diseases (mitral valve prolapse), congenital heart disease, venous insufficiency and others.
What keeps our heart and cardiovascular system healthy?
-Decrease in systemic high stress
-Abundance of nutrients that improve health of the vessels (antioxidants, anthocyanins, essential amino acids, foods high in nitric oxide, beneficial ratio of health fats (omega 9, higher omega 3 in comparison with omega 6).
-Stable blood glucose
Let’s talk about one of the factors listed above – stress!
Chronic stress, or a constant stress experienced over a prolonged period of time, can contribute to long-term problems for heart and blood vessels. During stressful times heart rate goes up, stress hormones (such as cortisol) are elevated which can persistently affect the blood pressure in the blood vessels. (American Physiological Association). This long-term ongoing stress can increase the risk for hypertension, heart attack or stroke.[i]
Stress reduction exercises, meditation, yoga, positive visualizations, self-care, frequent massage, acupuncture, naturopathic adaptogenic herbs and homeopathy, and other healing arts practices, can be used to decrease the effect of the stress on the body.
There is one particular way of healing – walks in the nature or how Japanese call it – Shinrin-Yoku (forest bathing). Shinrin-Yoku is an ancient way of healing by being in the nature practiced in transcontinental Japan and China.[ii] Increasing number of research studies appear in the literature that show how beneficial for health, especially cardiovascular system, are walks in the nature are (beach, mountains, parks, forests, any wilderness).
‘People with access to nearby natural settings have been found to be healthier overall than other individuals. The longer-term, indirect impacts (of ‘nearby nature’) also include increased levels of satisfaction with one’s home, one’s job and with life in general’[iii]
Research conducted by Kaplan, R. and Kaplan, S shows that access to nature in the workplace is related to lower levels of perceived job stress and higher levels of job satisfaction. [iv]
Research suggests that people with a view of trees and flowers reported that their jobs were less stressful and they were more satisfied with their jobs than others who could only see built environments from their window. Employees with views of nature also reported fewer illnesses and headaches. A similar study found that a view of natural elements (trees and other vegetation) lessened the negative impact of a job stress on intention to quit. [v]
These are just some of the many research studies mentioned. Being close to nature and having “nature time” at work and home environments clearly improve well-being and health of people, especially cardiovascular conditions.
To keep your heart healthy, take time to walk in the nature daily. It will make you healthier, happier and help your heart pump blood more efficiently.
[i] American Physiological Association. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body.aspx
Mrgaret M. Hansen, Reo Jones, Yoshifumi Miyazaki et al. Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Aug; 14(8): 851, Published online 2017 Jul 28. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14080851
[iii], iv,v Cecily Maller Mardie Townsend, Anita Pryor, Peter Brown, Lawrence St Leger. Healthy nature healthy people: “contact with nature” as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations. Health Promotion International, Volume 21, Issue 1, March 1, 2006, pages 45-54. Published in 2005.