In our world of technology, there is little time to unplug and relax.  Most of us have personal computers, personal cell phones, work cell phones or tablets quite literally attached to our hips. Each device alerts us to incoming emails, texts, missed calls or social media updates.   With each blinking light or trendy tone, we feel compelled to respond.  Talk about stressful!

Our devices take up a huge amount of time, but studies show they also affect our health.  Heavy cell phone use can increase sleep disorders, stress and depressive symptoms. Researchers believe the screens on electronic devices affect melatonin production, the hormone that sets sleep and wake cycles.

What can you do to combat the effects of technology?  Progressive doctors now recommend patients ‘take a hike’…literally. Studies show time in nature plays an important part in improving our health.  Some call this trend “ecotherapy.”  Time in nature can reduce anxiety and anger, improve stress levels and help curb depression.

Why not boost your health with a little help from Mother Nature?  This month Conservation Ontario kicked off its annual health and wellness initiative called Healthy Hikes. Ontarians are encouraged to step into nature and reap the benefits of being outside.  Healthy Hikes runs May 2 to October 31. Anyone can register to track time spent hiking in conservation areas across the province.

So if you are looking for a little ecotherapy of your own, why don’t you take a hike?  For park locations across the GTA, or to learn more about other outdoor activities, visit ConservationParks.ca.

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