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canada health, national park prescription, nature and health
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Finding joy and health in nature.

Humans didn’t evolve to stare at screens for an average of 10 hours a day. We evolved to hunt and gather on the plains, not to walk on asphalt or spend our days in high-rise buildings changing the colors of pixels on a computer screen.

So it’s understandable that modern humans suffer in some way or another from a lack of connection to nature. We may not feel a conscious disconnect from nature but it definitely has a negative impact on our mental and physical well-being. We know this because being in nature has shown to have an incredible therapeutic value that researchers are just beginning to understand.

Health officials in Canada are starting to take note of these benefits and have launched a new program that allows its doctors to prescribe free annual passes to the country's national parks to improve their patients’ well-being.

In the past, Canada’s doctors have prescribed spending time in nature, but this is the first time they've been able to hand out year-long passes that work across its national park system.

The program is called PaRx and was launched by the BC Parks Foundation in partnership with Parks Canada.


"Given the growing body of evidence that indicates nature time can improve all kinds of different physical and mental health conditions, we're hoping that our PaRx program not only improves patient health, but reduces costs to the healthcare system, and helps to grow the number of people who are more engaged environmental advocates," Prama Rahman, a coordinator for the BC Parks Foundation's Healthy By Nature Program, told NPR.

There are similar programs in the United States but because the U.S. has a privatized healthcare system they vary based on location and provider.

The more we study the connection between our health and access to nature, the clearer the connection becomes.

“There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well being,” says Lisa Nisbet, Ph.D., a psychologist at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, according to the American Psychological Association.

“You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even in urban nature. And the sense of connection you have with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature,” she said.

Studies show that being connected to nature is associated with improved memory, cognitive flexibility and the ability to maintain focus.

There are three different theories that attempt to explain the health benefits of being in nature. The biophilia hypothesis argues that because we evolved in wild settings and relied on the environment for survival, we have an innate need to connect with nature.

The stress reduction hypothesis backs the idea that spending time in nature triggers a physiological response that lowers stress levels.

Finally, the attention restoration theory holds that nature replenishes our cognitive resources, improving our attention and concentration.

It’s a little funny that after all of these years, we’re starting to realize that we have a special connection to nature and that spending time in the environment in which we originally flourished is important for our own sense of well-being. Kudos to Canada for taking things a step further and making it part of its commitment to health.






Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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