Christina Heiser explores the great outdoors and discovers “why going outside is good for your mind, body and soul”:
“Being outdoors is generally associated with activity, and being physically active keeps joints loose and helps with chronic pain and stiffness,” says Jay Lee, M.D., a physician with Kaiser Permanente in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
Plus, when you exercise outside (whether you go for a hike, run or opt to do something else), you have to disconnect from your phone — and that allows you to focus on yourself and what you’re doing, says Francis Neric, senior director of certification for the American College of Sports Medicine.
You’re also less likely to pick up a virus, since you’re not breathing in the same recycled air as everyone else quite as much. “Cold and flu happen in the winter because people are huddled indoors, where you’re more likely to be exposed to those viruses,” says Lee.
“Bathing in the woods” allows Heiser to de-stress:
Aside from boosting your activity level, hanging out at a park, garden or amongst many trees is great for your mental wellbeing, too. “Nature can be beneficial for mental health,” says Irina Wen, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and clinical director of the Steven A. Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone Medical Center. “It reduces cognitive fatigue and stress and can be helpful with depression and anxiety.”
Humility and gratitude are the things that environmentalist David Suzuki seeks during his excursions into nature:
What we need is humility. Clever as we are, nature is far more creative. Over 3.8 billion years, every species has had to evolve ways to find food, water and energy, and to dispose of wastes, find mates, reproduce, avoid predators and fend off parasites and infections. Nature offers myriad solutions that we have yet to discover. If we had the humility to learn from nature, using an approach called “biomimicry,” we would find far more and better solutions…
Along with humility, we should be grateful for nature’s generosity, something I’ve learned from Indigenous peoples. They acknowledge the source of their well-being, clean air, clean water, clean food and clean energy — all things that are created, cleansed or replenished by the web of life around us. In the urbanized industrial world we inhabit, we tend to think the economy is the source of all that matters to us, and so we have little regard for what we’re doing to the natural systems that sustain us. It’s time to see with new eyes.