The Nature Effect: Proven Physical AND Mental Benefits of Outdoor Exercise
I've always loved being outdoors and over the past decade I've been even more aware of nature
Especially the health benefits of movement and exercise outdoors in the natural surroundings..
On BOTH our physical and mental wellbeing
Almost all of us have been awestruck by nature at one time or another. Whether it's running at sunset on a sandy white beach, walking alongside a cool trickling stream, watching sunset over a mountain ridge, or even hearing the wind blow through the trees in the morning, being outdoors and aware of the world's beauty can make you feel energized and alive.
Recently, much research has focused on the so-called "nature connection,"
And how it affects our health, outlook and overall life...
Above - Just a few of the many benefits
When people think of exercise, they typically think of hitting the gym, while it might seem like the only practical option, there is overwhelming evidence exercising outdoors, is better for you both physically and mentally...
Why, the majority of my exercise/activity is outdoors regardless of the season
*Remember - There is no such thing as good/bad weather only our perception of it*
Why, the majority of my exercise/activity is outdoors regardless of the season
And as I write this post we're well into Autumn so I was actually enjoying the Autumn sunshine - Vitamin D
Below - Its me, Anton Hedges Health & Longevity Expert alongside another fellow outdoor exercise enthusiast who I spotted whilst out and about on one of my creative outdoor routines.. ('',)
Now I'm not saying you need to ruin yourself with a outdoor workout or that you have to strip down to just your shorts in the cold, although I also incorporate cold exposure (more in the content section) as this has many benefits..
Briefly, One of these is the art of discomfort. Most people crave comfort but life is a growth experience not a comfort one
The art of discomfort has really helped me with feeling of anxiety. Also comfort breeds contempt, it also brings a level of entitlement - One of the key reasons most people struggle!
Anyhow, I digress
Here are some more benefits of being and exercising outdoors?
> Boosts immune system
> Improves focus, self-esteem, and mood
> Best way to get in a daily dose of vitamin d
> Fresh air has more oxygen & is more invigorating compared to stale gym air
> Releases happy chemical 'serotonin'
> Challenge your muscles with workouts that aren't possible inside a gym
> Better air quality/more oxygen
> Calming/Increases relaxation and concentration/learning
> Shown to decrease mental illness such as depression
> Improves communication, motivation, & productivity
> Relaxes the strain on eyes caused by artificial lighting
So, you can also see how this would help with things like SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) below
SAD is a seasonal form of depression This means you may get symptoms at the same time every year, usually around autumn and winter. That’s why it’s sometimes known as ‘winter blues’, or ‘winter depression’ if your sleep patterns, appetite and mood change every year, usually in the winter months, you may have SAD... It affects around three in 100 people in the UK
What I've learnt from my own experiences of anxiety (& PTSD) ??? SAD like all forms of depression and anxiety is just a thought or feeling, it's not a real thing, you can't touch it or catch it We CREATE these thoughts feelings which means we also have the power to change them - back to training the mind again Self-help (see above and) for seasonal affective disorder > Spend more time outdoors in the daylight – for example, you could go for a walk every lunchtime
Movement is a great non destructive state shifter!
> Work in bright conditionings - for example, near a window
> Exercise outdoors, preferably in nature - research has focused on the so-called "nature connection," and how it affects our health, outlook & overall life.
> Consume well balanced healthy (but enjoyable) foods > Keep an eye on your boozing there's a direct connection to feelings of anxiety, low mood, depression etc
to how much booze (and whatever else) you put away Therefore, staying mindful, responsible and AWARE (wake up warrior) to how you feel and knowing you have the power to change how you feel 'instantly' is the real gamechanger...
Why we cover all of this within the, 'Number 1 Priority' routine, wake up warrior 5-pillar system
Also, whats amazing is that simply looking at pictures of nature can lower your blood pressure, stress and mental fatigue.
That’s how powerful nature can be.
So if you’re reading this at the office, change your desktop to a nature scene. And preferably a nature scene that includes water – research has shown that images containing water are more restorative than those without.
Below- Local wake up warrior Lee attempting a tough push up variation - Balance push ups - really challenging the core.
Wait there's more - Exercising in nature has benefits that go above and beyond the benefits you gain by exercising indoors. Research has shown improvements in mental well-being, self-esteem and can even help with depression. I’ve found that trail-running seems to help me decompress much better than running on a treadmill or even on city streets, and the research backs this up as well. Being exposed to plants decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, decreases resting heart rate and also decreases blood pressure.
These studies are really interesting because we often think of exercise as only being good for our bodies. It turns out that exercise can be just as good for our brains and our minds, and that getting outside and exercising in nature might amplify the benefits.
One of the challenges that we are faced with is staying motivated to exercise. About half of people who join a gym don’t stick with it beyond the first year. But people who exercise outside tend to stick with their exercise programs more consistently than those who train indoors, according to a study done in 2004.
So if you’re having trouble being consistent, consider adding an outdoor workout to your routine?
Another surprise benefit of getting outside and into nature is that exposure to plants like trees can improve your immune system.
Walking in nature improves measures of revitalization, self-esteem, energy and pleasure, and decreases frustration, worry, confusion, depression, tension and tiredness far more than light activity indoors does, according to the latest evidence. Running outdoors, however, does not seem to have a greater impact on emotions or mood than running inside, maybe because running and more intense activities cause the release of endorphins that can cause feelings of elation and exhilaration, regardless of where you run.
Below - The OLD Youtube Channel, Find the updated waking the warrior for more - I was getting creative with strength and mobility in the park on a beautiful summers days.
So if you want to feel better, just get outside: Over on our flakebook page, in the videos section, you will find numerous body-weight and dumbbell/kettlebell follow along workouts that can be done anywhere or feel free to grab the free wake up warrior blueprint that includes real usable routines and meal plans etc:
Alternatively, try gardening, heading to the beach or a lake on the weekend or going for a bike ride.
Or just start with a steady walk outside in the fresh air, ideally surrounded by nature, and see how your mood improves?
As the number number 1 priority for myself and all the online wake up warriors is our wellbeing - how we feel, physically, mentally and emotionally AND taking responsibility for it, is why we use the great outdoors as part of this simple proven system and why all these guys are looking, moving, and feeling great!
Anton 'naturist' Hedges
PS - If you don't FEEL great you can't be great
(research source - Me, Health adviser, NHS,)