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Breathe Easy



While living close to the water in Florida, my husband and I would frequent the beaches and walkways along the river. Walking near the flowing water, we experienced an increase in energy, alertness, and vitality. Flowing water, through its negative ions, and the freshness of the air, can elevate our mood and sense of wellbeing, and can help us achieve significantly better overall health.


In the hustle and bustle of urban life, where skyscrapers dominate the skyline and traffic congestion is a daily ordeal, the air is often laden with pollutants. In contrast, the countryside offers a breath of fresh air, both figuratively and literally.


We all know the air in rural areas is generally freer from the high concentrations of pollutants commonly found in cities. Urban areas are notorious for elevated levels of particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), all of which have been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases (Dockery et al., 1993; Brook et al., 2010). The absence of these pollutants in the countryside contributes to improved air quality and respiratory health.


Numerous studies have highlighted the correlation between exposure to air pollution and an increased risk of respiratory diseases. Long-term exposure to pollutants like PM has been associated with conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and even lung cancer (Cesaroni et al., 2013; Turner et al., 2016). Living in areas with fresh country air may contribute to a lower risk of developing these respiratory ailments.


City air pollution doesn't just affect the respiratory system; it also poses risks to cardiovascular health. The fine particulate matter found in polluted air has been linked to an elevated risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases (Pope et al., 2002; Brook et al., 2010). In contrast, enjoying the fresh air of the countryside can be a boon for heart health.

Beyond the physical health benefits, spending time in the countryside can have positive effects on mental well-being. Research suggests that exposure to natural environments can reduce stress and improve overall mental health (Bratman et al., 2019). The serene landscapes of rural areas offer a peaceful respite from the constant sensory stimulation and stressors of urban life.


The benefits of breathing fresh country air extend far beyond the simple pleasure of clean, crisp inhalations. Scientific research consistently supports the idea that escaping the urban sprawl and embracing the countryside can lead to better respiratory and cardiovascular health, reduced stress levels, and an overall improvement in well-being. Even weekend excursions to the country can help you reap some of the health benefits of country air.


Scientific research now confirms what God instructed thousands of years ago. Frequently being outside in contact with nature, enjoying the trees, flowers, and streams of water, “green spaces,” can improve our mood and alertness, lower blood pressure, improve blood circulation, decrease stress levels with lower concentrations of cortisol and better nerve conduction, improve the immune system, decrease risk of cancer and tumor formation, and reduce hostility, aggression and depression, compared to city environments. Some health professionals now prescribe “doses of nature” for children suffering from attention deficit disorder.


Isn’t time to get some fresh air?


If you would like to learn more about improving your nutrition and health, click the link below!

 

References:

Dockery, D. W., Pope, C. A., Xu, X., Spengler, J. D., Ware, J. H., Fay, M. E., ... & Speizer, F. E. (1993). An association between air pollution and mortality in six US cities. New England Journal of Medicine, 329(24), 1753-1759.

Brook, R. D., Rajagopalan, S., Pope III, C. A., Brook, J. R., Bhatnagar, A., Diez-Roux, A. V., ... & Kaufman, J. D. (2010). Particulate matter air pollution and cardiovascular disease: An update to the scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 121(21), 2331-2378.

Cesaroni, G., Forastiere, F., Stafoggia, M., Andersen, Z. J., Badaloni, C., Beelen, R., ... & Hoek, G. (2013). Long term exposure to ambient air pollution and incidence of acute coronary events: prospective cohort study and meta-analysis in 11 European cohorts from the ESCAPE Project. BMJ, 348, f7412.

Turner, M. C., Jerrett, M., Pope III, C. A., Krewski, D., Gapstur, S. M., & Diver, W. R. (2016). Long-term ozone exposure and mortality in a large prospective study. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 193(10), 1134-1142.

Bratman, G. N., Hamilton, J. P., Hahn, K. S., Daily, G. C., & Gross, J. J. (2015). Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(28), 8567-8572.

Pope III, C. A., Burnett, R. T., Thun, M. J., Calle, E. E., Krewski, D., Ito, K., & Thurston, G. D. (2002). Lung cancer, cardiopulmonary mortality, and long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution. JAMA, 287(9), 1132-1141.

Holick, M. F. (2007). Vitamin D deficiency. New England Journal of Medicine, 357(3), 266-281.

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