Sunday, June 06, 2010

A daily dose of nature significantly boosts feelings of vitality, researchers claim

All this rubbish tells you is that students are good at telling their professors what their professors want to hear. Where was the sampling? Where were the double-blind controls? I suppose we should be glad that there were some controls but experimenter expectation effects and social desirability responding do not appear to have been taken into account. The journal article "Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature" is here. It sounds more like the record of a crusade than anything else

Spending just 20 minutes a day in the park is enough to significantly boost vitality and energy levels, researchers have found. Being outside in nature makes people feel more alive and could be important for mental and physical health, studies have shown.

A series of experiments conducted on college students in America has shown that the boost in wellbeing comes from being outside, rather than the effect of physical exercise or socialising with others.

Lead author, Richard Ryan, professor of psychology, psychiatry, and education at the University of Rochester, in New York, said: "Nature is fuel for the soul. "Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energised is to connect with nature.

"Research has shown that people with a greater sense of vitality don't just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings."

The experiments published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology involved over 500 students.

Participants were led on a 15-minute walk through indoor hallways or along a tree-lined river path. In another, the undergraduates viewed photographic scenes of buildings or landscapes. A third experiment required students to imagine themselves in a variety of situations both active and sedentary, inside and out, and with and without others.

Two final experiments tracked participants' moods and energy levels throughout the day using diary entries. Over either four days or two weeks, students recorded their exercise, social interactions, time spent outside, and exposure to natural environments, including plants and windows.

And that sense of increased vitality exists above and beyond the energising effects of physical activity and social interaction that are often associated with our forays into the natural world, the studies show.

All the results showed the students consistently felt more energetic when they spent time in natural settings or just imagined themselves in such situations.

The most significant findings were that being outside in nature for 20 minutes a day was enough to boost feelings of vitality.

Prof Ryan added: "We have a natural connection with living things.

"Nature is something within which we flourish, so having it be more a part of our lives is critical, especially when we live and work in built environments."

He said these studies underscore the importance of having access to parks and natural surroundings and of incorporating natural elements into our buildings through windows and indoor plants.


Lung cancer treatment 'shrinks tumours'

Depending on your genes

An experimental therapy has shown a high response rate and helps shrink tumours in lung cancer patients with a specific form of genetic alteration, according to results of a clinical trial.

The Pfizer Inc drug crizotinib shrank tumours in lung cancer patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with a specific gene alteration of an enzyme implicated in cancer cell growth, known as anaplastic lymphoma kinase, or ALK.

According to Pfizer, around 10,000 people in the United States are affected by a lung cancer with this particular genetic mutation.

About 90 per cent of the 82 participants in the small-scale phase one clinical trial responded positively, and more than half - 57 per cent - saw their tumours shrink after eight weeks, said lead author Yung-Jue Bang, a physician at Seoul National University College of Medicine.

Researchers had only expected about 10 per cent of the patients, many of whom had already received three or more prior treatments, to respond to the treatment.

Most of the NSCLC patients were former smokers or had never smoked. The median duration of treatment was approximately six months.

Crizotinib, which is taken orally, works by inhibiting the ALK enzyme. About one in 20 lung cancer patients in the US are estimated to be diagnosed with ALK-positive NSCLC each year.


No comments: