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Music and the Spoken Word: What research proves about why we should spend more time outdoors

Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given March 24, 2019.

Many of us are searching for ways to feel a little better — physically and emotionally. When aches and pains escalate, we feel thankful for modern medicines that can help restore our health. But there is another kind of treatment that some people are calling free medicine, or "a prescription you can’t fill in a pharmacy": time spent in nature.

One pediatrician often recommends what he calls "park prescriptions." To redeem them, his patients are required to go outside, in the fresh air, surrounded by nature. The doctor even records these prescriptions in his patients' health records. And he isn't alone — more and more physicians are advising patients to spend time in the outdoors as a routine part of their treatment for a variety of ailments. While they aren't expecting nature to cure diseases by itself, many physicians and researchers are discovering benefits of spending time in nature, including improved "stress relief, less depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure, decreased heart rate and more."

Of course, you don't have to wait for your doctor to sign a nature prescription. This is one medication you can self-prescribe, and don't worry — there isn't a long list of side effects. You can fill this prescription in so many ways: going for a hike or even just a stroll in a nearby park, playing in the backyard, or simply sitting on a porch or looking out a window and observing the world around us. We might plant a little flower or vegetable garden and experience the miracle of sowing and reaping. We might listen to the rain during a cleansing storm and breathe deeply the pure, sweet air when it’s over. We might get up early enough to look in awe at a sunrise or stay up late enough to gaze at a sky full of stars.

Anything we can do to fill our hearts and lungs and minds with nature can do wonders for our health and well-being.

So when considering what to do to feel just a little better, remember what the doctor ordered: spend some time in nature.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM, ksl.com, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143) and on the Tabernacle Choir's website and YouTube channel. The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org.

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