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    Go play outside!

    What if  scientists found an antidote to stress that would lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve overall feelings of well-being? And what if this remedy cost nothing and had no side effects? Although your mother probably didn’t mention the positive effects of negative ions, her advice to go play outside and get some fresh air was very wise indeed.


    Anecdotally, we know we feel better after we go for a walk or a run or spend time outside. But there’s also increasing scientific evidence for the very real benefits of the great outdoors. A recent study at the University of Exeter found that people who spend a total of just two hours a week in parks or other natural environments report substantially better health and psychological well-being. The Japanese practice of “forest bathing” (being in the presence of trees) brings similar benefits. Here in Southern Chester County, we’re surrounded by the cure—a wealth of stunning open spaces to explore. Here are just a few:


    Natural Lands’ preserves offer miles of trails through varied terrain including woodlands, meadows, and stream valleys. In addition to the nearby Stroud and ChesLen preserves, find beautiful vistas, trails, and birdwatching at Sadsbury Woods in Coatesville, Wawa Preserve in Media, and Willisbrook in Malvern. Download the interactive ExploreNLT app for trail maps at your fingertips.


    In Wester Chester Borough, you don’t have far to go to find a variety of green spaces including Fugett, Everhart, Hoopes, and Bayard Rustin parks.


    The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC) provides “TLC” for the environment and residents through preserving and stewarding spaces including the Chandler Mill Nature Center and Preserve in Kennett Township and Stateline Woods in Kennett Square.


    We also have Longwood Gardens—one of the world’s premier horticultural display gardens that includes the 86-acre Meadow Garden—on our doorstep.


    The 2.6-mile Struble Trail offers walkers, runners, and bikers a scenic meander along the Brandywine Creek towards Downingtown. Find the entrance and parking lot off Norwood Road in Downingtown.


    The Chester Valley Trail is a paved rail-trail between Exton Park at East Swedesford Road and King of Prussia. Just under 15 miles long, the trail is perfect for strollers, commuting cyclists, or even colleagues on a walking meeting.


    *At this time it is  important to remember to please practice social distancing even while outside by staying 6 feet away from people who you are not quarantined with to better protect yourself and others.


    Note: Jim Robbins, “Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health,” Yale Environment 360, Jan. 9, 2020.