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Winter, spring, summer or fall, being in nature, walking over uneven terrain, and experiencing amazing views feeds my soul. And there are health benefits to spending time in nature as well.

As humans, we came from nature. We didn’t evolve to sit in chairs inside climate-controlled environments all day. Nor did we evolve to move our bodies and get our exercise on machines inside climate-controlled buildings.

We walked, and sometimes ran, and crawled and climbed and pushed and pulled when necessary. All outdoors, I might add.

Are you spending enough time each day experiencing the beauty and benefits of nature?

Here are seven reasons you might consider adding more time in nature to your day:

  1. Being in nature helps to reduce stress, thus reducing systemic inflammation to support health.
  2. Being in nature enhances your nervous, endocrine (hormones), and immune systems. 
  3. Being in nature helps to decrease negative emotions and increase positive ones, putting us in better moods. 
  4. Being in nature helps to decrease blood pressure.
  5. Being in nature helps to decrease heart rate. 
  6. Being in nature even helps us to perceive pain better. 
  7. Being in nature calms our racing minds and allows us to focus better. 

Enjoying the views with my furry friend.

Doggies love nature too!

The sounds of waves crashing and seals barking. Oh, and the SMELL of the seals too!

During my teaching days, I always found that my students’ behavior and positive energy were significantly improved on days they got to spend time outdoors running and playing in the grassy fields. Unfortunately, I taught in a school where taking kids outdoors regularly was frowned upon in favor of using every possible minute for academic time. Sadly, this is the norm in most public schools these days, but I’ll avoid school politics here as much as possible. 

As you can imagine, this was grossly out of alignment with what I knew kids needed, and being the non-conformist that I am, I found ways to get my students outside whenever possible. We weeded the flower gardens and planted plants during homeroom time. We had relay races. The kids LOVED racing me, and once in a while a lucky student beat me. I had timers set to go off every 15 minutes during long-block academic times for quick movement sessions. Some days when the timer went off, I’d say “Drop everything and run to the fence and back!” Those kids would scramble out of their seats and bolt out the door as quickly as their legs would carry them, returning to the room with rosy cheeks and breathing heavily. 

One might assume that these interruptions to academics every 15 minutes would result in lower productivity and focus, but the OPPOSITE was actually the case. On the days when I forgot to set the timers the kids were more fidgety, less focused, got less accomplished, and had more behavioral issues. 

I find that on days when I am experiencing a low mood or loneliness, that getting outside for a hike or even a walk, where I can breathe fresh air, see plants growing, and hear the sounds of nature makes a remarkable difference in my mood and perspective. Interestingly, I also find that on the days when I spend more time in nature I tend to have fewer cravings for unhealthy snacks and sweets and have more cravings for whole nourishing foods such as meat and vegetables. 

 

The opposite is also true. On the days when I spend too much time indoors sitting in front of my computer, I notice a dramatic decline in my energy and mood, and an increase in cravings for junk food.

We’ve come to expect the comforts and conveniences of our modern world, such as climate controlled buildings and chairs, but this lifestyle is in stark contrast to where we came from as humans. These comforts and conveniences that we’ve grown accustomed to are actually contributing factors in modern health issues. 

Who knew that spending time in nature each day could be so beneficial to your health and wellbeing? Most of us aren’t getting enough of it. Are you?