Nowadays it’s becoming a lot harder to get outside and reap the benefits the great outdoors has for us; perhaps you’re sat at your desk as you read this article, or maybe you’re on a train or bus coming home from work. Wherever you are, it’s highly unlikely that you’re outside, in the fresh air and enjoying nature.
The world is increasingly reliant on technology, lives are only getting busier and more demanding — you’d be forgiven for feeling that getting out of the house or office has become a luxury. What’s truly deniable, nonetheless, is how much good the great outdoors does for the body, mind and soul. Still not convinced? Well, here are just some of the most compelling reasons to get outside.
Being active outside: it’s so liberating!
There’s a whole world of opportunities available just on the other side of the door. However you get your fitness kick — be it running, walking, hiking, biking — all of these activities and more are waiting for you. Is there truly anything more liberating than donning a pair of running trainers and hitting a trail? Or hopping on your bike with no real plan of where you’re going? Or swimming in a freshwater lake or in the open ocean? Many would argue not, and if you’re in any doubt then you’re yet to understand the true benefits.
Passing through tree-lined streets or along scenic hillsides, your senses will be alive with the sights and smells of your environment. Even if you live in the city, and you’ve not got access to open vistas, you’d be amazed how meditative taking your activity outside can be — getting outside really opens your eyes up to where you live, and you’ll notice quirky and interesting things about your local area that you’ve never taken time to acknowledge before.
If meditative movement is not your thing and you’d rather be entertained as you go, why not download a free audiobook or podcast? British actor and comedian Stephen Fry credits audiobooks for encouraging his love affair with walking in the great outdoors, and he got a svelte new figure to go along with it.
Speaking of which, here’s the best bit — outside activity costs you nothing. So, you’ll be saving money on that expensive monthly gym membership you (maybe!) don’t use too often. What’s more liberating than that?
See the sky at night
With constant development in residential areas, light pollution is fast becoming an unavoidable part of everyday life. The light emitted from tower blocks, office buildings and road lamps is creating rays that drown out the natural light shining from the stars. Indeed, in many cities you’d be lucky to catch sight of one or two constellations even in the deepest of nighttime.
These days, there are only a few places in the world where you can see the stars in their complete, and magnificent, glory. For your best chance to see the sky illuminated at night, head away from the bright lights of urban areas — up into hills or mountains, or into vast parks — pack a hot drink and some blankets, and sit back to enjoy. You’ll be treated to a mind-blowing show, and relaxing under a blanket of stars is a sure-fire way to feel humbled; a striking reminder of how beautiful life is. Don’t forget to make a wish if you see a shooting star!
Even better still, find somewhere you can sleep overnight out in the wilderness. America’s National Parks offer some of the most intense dark skies possible, with plenty of camping opportunities. For ultimate stargazing luxury, head to Under Canvas glamping — they’ve even got a tent with a window in the roof, so you can witness the night sky from the comfort of your bed! There’s little else like waking up surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature — especially if you’re also waking up in a snuggly, king-sized bed with breakfast being cooked for you in a nearby restaurant tent! You won’t just feel better, you’ll be healthier for it too…
Nature’s benefits on the body and mind
Have you ever felt a little out-of-sorts, only to find your unpleasant symptoms alleviated after even a short break outside? As wild as it sounds, there’s plenty of proof to suggest that being in nature reduces stress levels and increases happiness, as well as improving lung and digestive health.
The combination of sunlight imbuing your skin with delicious Vitamin D – and raising serotonin levels in your brain — plus plants and trees releasing happy chemicals called Phytoncides, all lowers the body’s blood pressure and cortisol (the stress hormone that gets us all too worked up). It’s also been said that inhaling fresh air does wonders for the lungs, and actually increases the amount of oxygen circulating the body — giving an energy boost to organs, and greater clarity of mind.
As such, re-connecting with nature doesn’t just have physical advantages but it can bring around powerful inspiration — there’s a reason so many beautiful poems and novels have been written about wildlife. Even for those who aren’t partial to a poem or two, getting outside can make life’s problems feel a little smaller and more manageable.
With stories in the media every day about environmental concerns, such as climate change and plastic in the ocean, it’s important to appreciate the beauty of nature, to help protect it. Why not see if there’s any conservation activity going on in your local area? Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with a brilliant idea and become a future policy maker, blazing the way in climate control.
Whether you’re a city-dweller or a forester, or you’re lucky enough to live by the beach, nature has so much to offer if you take a step outside. You don’t have to rough it, these days there’s ways and means to have all your creature comforts plus all the benefits of embracing wilderness.
So… what are you waiting for? Stop reading this and get out there! Your body, mind and soul will thank you for it.