Can fresh air cure the blues? Does convening
with nature lower the blood pressure? Are we actually better revitalized by
exercising in a green space rather than a gym?
The answer is yes, according to researchers at
Peninsula College of Medicine in the UK.
And the upside of outdoor activity doesn’t end
there. A whole host of health benefits including stress reduction, enhanced
mood, boost in self esteem, superior attention and concentration, illness
recovery, obesity and heart disease prevention can now be attributed to
spending time in nature. And, what is more, people who exercise in nature are
far more likely to continue their habits later in life than gym rats.
The UK isn’t just researching the benefits of
“wilderness therapy”…they are producing myriad programs to encourage
participation in outdoor activities, two examples being the Green Gym that brings people together to tend public gardens and create other green spaces and Blue Gym that creates opportunities for contact and interaction with seashores and
Perhaps the most interesting revelation in this
research is that outdoor activity pushes beyond health benefits of general
exercise by providing “Opportunities for personal development and sense of
purpose for adults….Spending time in a natural setting enables participants to
access those aspects of their self that may elude them in more conventional personal
development or therapeutic settings.”
So, living in an urban environment as
many of us do, we need to make a concerted effort to stay connected with
nature. Especially in the winter, we need to push ourselves to snag
opportunities to ski, skate, snowtube, walk, hike, and otherwise play in the great
outdoors lest we succumb to the harmful effects of a stagnant modern life, e.g.
obesity, sluggishness, depression.
What will your wildness therapy be this