“The earth has music for those who listen.”  – George Santayana

 

This week’s health tip is: walk outdoors! And I couldn’t think of a better time to practice that tip than now. The Summer heat is starting to cool off, but the days are still long enough to enjoy a few extra strolls around your favorite park.

Walking outdoors for as little as five minutes a day is enough to reset your mind and body and create a stress-free space inside you, allowing for miracles to take place.

Studies have shown that the closer you live to nature, the healthier you will be. But why is this? While there are many theories as to why being in nature makes us healthier, here are my top 6 reasons as to why heading out to your local park is a good idea:

1: It Makes you Happy! Getting outside and moving releases feel-good endorphins in the bloodstream, reducing stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that regular to moderate exercise is as effective as antidepressants in cases of mild to moderate depression. So imagine how happy a brisk walk through the park could make you feel when you’re in a fairly good mood?

2: It reduces stress. Getting outside is a great excuse to detach yourself from your computer, your never-ending inbox, your Facebook and instagram feeds and just be. It’s amazing how quickly the stress of the day just melts away when you unplug yourself from your desk and plug into nature.

3. It gives you energy. A brisk walk is one of the best natural energizers around. It boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply to each and every cell in your body, helping you to feel more alert and alive. It wakes up stiff joints and eases muscle tension so you feel less sluggish.

4. It keeps you fit. Staying fit is an important part of your overall health.  A good walk helps strengthen your entire body, from legs, buttocks, abdomen to arms! But not only that, getting outside and simply putting one foot in front of the other lowers the risk of  heart disease, it also lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, asthma and some cancers.

5: It keeps you creative. Walking outdoors also jump starts your creativity and you can get some of your best ideas ideas out that way.  Somehow the act of walking actually stimulates certain parts of your brain allowing for creativity to take place. In a creative rut? Get out and walk!

6: Increases Vitamin D intake. Vitamin D plays an important role on our health, including preventing cancer, hormonal problems, obesity, inflammation, and having a strong immune system. Because sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, getting outside is the best way to get your daily dose of it.

 

Live in a city with no green space nearby? No worries! Other studies by researchers in England and Sweden have found that joggers who exercise in a natural green setting with trees, foliage and landscape views, feel more restored, and less anxious, angry and depressed than those runners who burn the same amount of calories in gyms or other urban settings. So even if you have to drive a few miles to find a little green, it’s worth it!

So next time you’re feeling in a bit of a slump or needing that afternoon cup of coffee, disconnect from all your take a break and walk to your nearest recreational park. Stop to smell the flowers, or feel the roughness of a single blade of grass or observe the beauty in a single leaf and leave everything behind.

How do the outdoors help relax you? What’s your favorite place to walk/run/bike, outdoors?