Dr Amir shares one simple way to help prevent cancer and boost your immune system

Flowers release chemicals with 'anti-cancer properties' says doctor

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Going for a walk in the park or nature has a number of health benefits, not only for your cardiovascular health and mental wellbeing, but can help prevent serious disease. “There’s real science behind that,” said Dr Amir on Lorraine, “I go on about this all the time on my Instagram.”

Dr Amir explained: “I find this really fascinating – plants produce a chemical called phytoncides that are antibacterial, anti fungal for them, but they release them into the atmosphere, we breathe them in, and they’re really good for our immune system.

“It produces more T white [blood] cells, which are good for fighting off viruses but also have anti cancer properties.

“So you being in the park, breathing in those chemicals that plants just give off will be doing your immune system wonders.”

Christine Lampard, who’s been standing in for Lorraine, exclaimed: “That’s why you’re in your garden all the time!”

Dr Amir replied: “That’s why I’m in my garden, that’s why I can go out in the middle of the night, like last night, and feel well, because my immune system is working!”

Christine concluded: “You are as healthy as they come.”

A study surveyed more than 19,000 people in the UK about the recreational time they spent in nature, along with their self-reported health and wellbeing.

The researchers found those who spend at least 120 minutes a week in nature saw a boost in their mental and physical health, compared to people who didn’t spend any time in nature.

It didn’t matter how or where people racked up the 120 minutes – many short walks near home were just as effective as a longer hike on the weekend at a park.

Other research has shown even small bouts in nature can provide health benefits.

In one study, people who exercised for just five minutes in nature experienced increased self esteem and mood.

Some of the health benefits of nature are due to people getting more physical activity when they are outside.

When it comes to exercise, adults should do some type of physical activity every day.

The NHS says any type of activity is good for you. The more you do the better.

Adults should:

  • aim to be physically active every day. Any activity is better than none, and more is better still
  • do strengthening activities that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least 2 days a week
  • do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week
  • reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity.

You can also achieve your weekly activity target with:

  • several short sessions of very vigorous intensity activity
  • a mix of moderate, vigorous and very vigorous intensity activity

The NHS adds: “Make sure the type and intensity of your activity is appropriate for your level of fitness.

“You can do your weekly target of physical activity on a single day or over two or more days. Whatever suits you.”

But research shows even sitting still in nature – as with Japanese “forest bathing” can improve a person’s health.

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