Whether we realize it or not humans are interconnected with Nature. Humans cannot survive without Nature. Unfortunately, humans take for granted the great things that Nature has to offer. People ignore the simplicity of Nature, even when Nature is a fundamental asset to our everyday life. (https://humansandnature.org/humans-cannot-survive-without-nature/)

But this does not have to be you.

There is so much you can do for you to become healthier and happier… simply.   You don’t need a huge garden or adventures to foreign lands – there is a natural world waiting for you in a window box, on a walk in a public park, or in a pause just to enjoy the view.

It is these tiny things that can make the biggest difference. Every staircase is made of many steps and each one matters. As advised by the NHS:

  • try to get as much natural sunlight as possible – even a brief lunchtime walk can be beneficial
  • make your work and home environments as light and airy as possible
  • sit near windows when you’re indoors
  • take plenty of regular exercise, particularly outdoors and in daylight

These health benefits of engagement with Nature and the outdoors are endorsed by nutritionist Dr Deanna Minich’s explanation that, “Being in Nature, living among Nature, and appreciating Nature, such as by hiking in the forest or simply walking in the woods, can bring people into an altered mindset of appreciation, gratitude, and generosity, all of which connect to the heart.”

Another interesting angle of outdoor exercise to consider is the concept of colour having the power to affect our mental wellbeing, moods and energy.

There is some evidence that colour affects our mood and general wellbeing. In 1958, US scientist Robert Gerard conducted a study that claimed red stimulates and makes us anxious, while blue promotes calm. He also showed that colour could affect appetite, blood pressure and aggression.  (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2008/jul/06/healthandwellbeing.relaxation31)

“A green aura and a healthy heart chakra is said to be associated with physical health and the overall immune system response, which can be strengthened by feeling compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, self-understanding.”  (https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/green-symbolism#)

Greens are good for you.

Nature and the outdoors ‘can mean green spaces like parks, woodland or forests and blue spaces like rivers, wetlands, beaches or canals. It also includes trees on an urban street, private gardens, verges and even indoor plants or window boxes. Surprisingly, even watching Nature documentaries is good for our mental health. This is great news as it means the mental health benefits of Nature can be made available to nearly every one of us, no matter where we live. (https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/research/nature-how-connecting-nature-benefits-our-mental-health#)

An appreciation of Nature can naturally lead to more exercise opportunities – as walks become more interesting, they might also become longer and, as you become more engaged with investigating your environment, you may pick up the pace or vary the terrain. Not only is your mind taking a break from the worries of everyday life but your body is benefitting too, without you even realising it!

Obviously, any exercise is better than none and indoor workouts have much to offer. However, ‘Compared with indoor exercise, a study shows that exercising in natural environments was linked to “greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreased tension, confusion, anger and depression” and more energy. (https://flipbelt.com/blogs/flipbelt/working-out-at-the-gym-vs-outdoors#)

Advantages of outdoor exercise and sport include:

So, which outdoor sport is the best one for you? Here are just three out of many, many activities to consider:

As discussed above, walking gives an access point for all. Put your foot on the accelerator to upgrade to jogging, running, Park Run, 5k, half-marathon, marathon, ultra-marathon and Iron Man!

Tennis can start with just a hitting a ball against a wall, to social play at a local club, joining a league, county competition, European tour and Wimbledon!

Athletics has something to offer everyone. Whether you feel like a sprint, a distance run, tackling some hurdles, working with a relay team, planting your heels in the long jump sand, reaching for the moon in high jump, reaching for the stars in pole vault, or proving your power with javelin, shotput, hammer throw and discus, the choice is all out there.

There is an energy outside waiting for us all. By making the most of it, we not only benefit ourselves but we can play our part in supporting the next generation by appreciating and caring for Nature in return.