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Key Points:

1. If motivation is a concern, you're more likely to stick to your exercise routine if you exercise outside.

2. Exercising in nature has been shown to improve measures of revitalization, self-esteem, energy, pleasure, and decreases frustration, worry, confusion, depression, tension, and tiredness more than exercising indoors.

3. Exercising in nature also boosts your immune system due to the chemicals emitted by plants. 

Check out the talk I did at the Titan Summit on the power of nature. It's 13 minutes long so watch it whenever you have the chance. 

If you are increasing the time you spend exercising, that’s great! More physical activity will help your muscles, blood, heart and lungs - pretty much everything in your body. Doing it outside is even better. I find that getting outside to exercise is so much better than going to the gym. I go to the gym and I like it, but I really love running on trails. You may not be into running, but getting outside can be more inspiring than being in a gym.

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. So if you’re having trouble being consistent, consider adding an outdoor workout to your routine.

What’s 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! Perhaps find another for your phone. Tip: research has shown that images containing water are more restorative than those without.

Another surprising benefit of getting outside is that exposure to plants can improve your immune system. Your immune system helps to fight off illnesses and keeps you healthy. Scientists think that airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect themselves from fungus, bacteria and insects may also benefit humans. In a study published in 2007, people who took 2-hour walks in a forest had a 50% increase in the levels of their natural killer cells. They sound scary but they’re your cells that circulate through your body and kill bacteria, viruses, fungus and other invaders. The benefits of exercising outdoors appear to last for at least a week - maybe even up to a month! So once per week (or at least once per month) spend some time outside doing something fun like hiking on a trail, skiing, or paddle boarding. The more you can immerse yourself in nature, the better.
 
It also turns out that if you prefer light activity to running or more intense activities you’re in luck. It appears that walking in nature improves measures of revitalization, self-esteem, energy, pleasure, and decreases frustration, worry, confusion, depression, tension, and tiredness far more than light activity indoors does. So if you want to feel better, get outside and don’t worry about whether or not you walk or run.

I think 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 exercising in nature might amplify the benefits.

Today's POWER-UP: Get outside!

1. Exercise outside at least once per week.

2. If you have a hectic work schedule, plan ahead to schedule a time to get outside between shifts. Whether you are at home or away, search for local parks and spend some time strolling in nature.

Dive Deeper

Check out this National Geographic article on the effects of nature on your brain.

 

The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation.