Can Walking in Nature Really Improve My Health and Wellbeing?
By Louise Don Personal Fitness Trainer and Nutritional Therapist
There’s a popular quote – The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it! – from Sydney J Harris (journalist and author) – that also sums up my attitude to walking in nature.
Taking 20 minutes to re-balance your body and mind by immersing yourself in nature’s electromagnetic field (eg, in the park, by the sea) will give you back those 20 minutes, plus many more benefits such as reducing fatigue, improved mental wellbeing, better quality sleep, improved cardiovascular health, strengthened bones, healthy weight and reduced stress.
When you are suffering regularly from niggling or debilitating symptoms such as headaches, poor quality sleep, negative thinking, unfulfilling work or relationships, anxiety, or simply taking longer to do work or domestic tasks, you will be using up those precious 20 minutes in visiting the doctor or pharmacy, taking extra naps, spacing out in front of the computer or TV or putting right the mistakes you’ve been making due to feeling under par.
And this is not to mention the more indirect, less easy-to-measure effects such as feeling tired, negative thinking, feeling down and unmotivated, getting irritable with loved ones, and generally feeling like life could be so much better than this.
So why can walking in nature give us so much benefit?
Well, we are electromagnetic beings. All the physiological processes in our body (eg, producing energy, digesting our food, building our bones, pumping our blood, processing thoughts in our brain, hormone production) are influenced by the electromagnetic fields within our cells and surrounding our body.
For hundreds of thousands of years, we have lived in nature’s electromagnetic field and this is where we thrive.
It has only been in the last 100 years that we have become immersed in manufactured electromagnetic fields due to phones, wifi, electricity and being inside buildings and cars, etc. We have not had time to adapt to these, and they can play havoc with our physiological processes – some of us will be more sensitive than others.
It makes sense that immersing ourselves in the very environment that we have evolved to thrive in will help reset our body and mind and help all these physiological processes function much more effectively. Increasing numbers of studies are demonstrating just these effects – see some of the links near the beginning of this article.
In my nutrition and personal training practices, I often recommend walking in nature to my clients – many times they will report almost immediate benefits in their energy levels, motivation and stress levels. And this is also why I do my personal training sessions with clients outdoors as much as possible, to maximise the benefits of the physical exercise.
So, now is the perfect time to get out in the warm, sunny spring fresh air – feed your body and soul the revitalising, nourishing waves from nature they long for!
If you live in the Brighton and Hove area and want to get to know some beautiful local walks, check out the award-winnning Healthwalks. There are 18 regular walks across the city, and lengths range from under a mile (average walking time: twenty to thirty minutes) up to three miles (average walking time one and a half to two hours). They are all free, led by trained Volunteer Walk Leaders and are also accessible by public transport.
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