Have you ever wondered why you feel so good after a walk in the woods?
The beauty and serenity are certainly a large part of the delight, but
scientific studies have also found a slew of mental and physical health
benefits, including stress reduction, better attention, and possibly even
reduced risks for cancer and premature death.
And while city living is exciting, it’s important to your health
to surround yourself with as much nature as possible. A recent study published
in Environmental Health Perspectives, for instance, found a 12% lower
risk of mortality for people who live in close proximity to green space,
with the biggest improvements related to reduced risk of death from cancer,
lung disease or kidney disease. The researchers point to “recovery
from stress and attention fatigue, encouragement of physical activity,
facilitation of social contact and better air quality” as well as
nature’s positive effect on mental health, all of which would boost
overall health and longevity.
Another study found that walks in the forest were specifically associated
with decreased levels of anxiety and bad moods, and another found that
outdoor walks could be “useful clinically as a supplement to existing
treatments” for major depressive disorder. A 2010 review of research
into the effects of outdoor time on the immune system showed that, while
continued investigation is needed, all the findings strongly suggest that
forest environments have beneficial effects.
Even a lunchtime walk helped college students do better on accuracy tests.
Imagine what a four- day excursion can do. According to scientists at
University of Kansas, Lawrence and University of Utah, Salt Lake City,
subjects found their creativity boosted by 50%.
Want to get your green on in the South Bay? Try these local hikes and walks:
Del Cerro Park, Rancho Palos Verdes Situated at the end of Crenshaw Boulevard, Del Cerro Park has numerous
hikes of all levels and views of the ocean on just about every one of
them. One of the locals’ favorite hikes is Burma Road Trail, a 4.7-mile
out and back that features beautiful wildflowers and is rated as moderate.
(Accessible year-round; dogs allowed on a leash.) To get to this trail,
take Crenshaw Boulevard to Park Place in RVP. Parking can be tricky, so
build in enough time. 2 Park Place, Rancho Palos Verdes.
For more information, please call 310-544-5260.
Forrestal Preserve Loop, Rancho Palos Verdes, a 2.9-mile loop trail located near Rancho Palos Verdes, is good for all
skill levels. The views are awesome, especially if you do some climbs
(which makes the hike tougher, of course). The 3-mile loop takes about
45 minutes, with a longer option that will take you two hours. (Accessible
year-round and dogs allowed on a leash.) Trailhead is at Main Sail Avenue
and Palos Verdes Drive S. in RPV. Parking is much more forgiving here.
32201 Forrestal Dr., Rancho Palos Verdes.
Please call 310-541-7613 for more information.
Madrona Marsh Preserve and Nature Center, Torrance is the last vernalmarsh remaining in the South Bay and one of
the few wetlands located within an urban landscape. You can take a self-guided
walk or book a docent who can point out the flora and fauna. Bring your
binoculars to check out the more than 275 native and 50 non- native bird
species. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 3201 Plaza Del Amo, Torrance.
Please call 310-782-3989 for more information.
La Romeria Park is a family-friendly park in a nice West Torrance neighborhood. Locals
say it’s clean and green. Andrew Weil, MD, suggests you make contact
with earth, sand or grass at least once a day. So take off your shoes
and do some “earthing” on your lunch hour. (Dogs OK on a leash,
lots of kiddie play structures.) Open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. 19501 S.
Inglewood Ave., Torrance.
For more information, please call 310-618-2930.