So this weekend has passed & it was a lovely weekend – I went to Sydney Olympic Park & hired a bike & went riding for 2 hours. It was great, & I love being outdoors! I rode all the way to Rhodes as well as the bike track within Sydney Olympic Park.
There are so many benefits of being outdoors such as:
- Forests calm us down.Time amongst the trees has a proven positive impact on reducing stress levels and lowering blood pressure. Research undertaken in Japan, a country of long working days and high suicide rates, reveals that immersing yourself in the natural world significantly reduces stress levels and wards off depression. In response, Japan’s Forestry Agency has created a network of Forest Therapy trails on which rangers monitor visitors’ blood pressure.
- Nature makes us more creative.According to David Strayer, Ph.D., a professor of Cognition and Neural Science at the University of Utah, “Modern multitasking overtaxes brain areas that are involved in suppressing distractions, thinking creatively, and developing a sense of identity.” Strayer discovered that a mere four days backpacking in nature improved people’s creativity by 50%.
- Nature sounds good.What we listen to has a huge impact on our health and wellbeing. Studies undertaken by leading sound expert Julian Treasure, chairman of The Sound Agency reveal the benefits of natural sound, as well as silence. An example Treasure cites is that humans find bird song reassuring. We intrinsically feel that all is good in the world if the birds are singing.
- Nature smells good.Our sense of smell is closely linked to the parts of the brain responsible for processing emotion. The scents we inhale have an immediate and profound impact. Trees and plants emit phytoncides – a volatile organic compound and wood essential oil. Inhaling phytoncides slows down breathing and reduces anxiety. Residents of some east Asian countries partake in ‘forest bathing’ or Shinrin-yoku, an experience which allows us to be engulfed by, and breath in, the healing powers of phytoncides.
- Water is good for body and soul.Research undertaken by the University of Exeter’s Medicine School details the essential role water plays in our psychological wellbeing. Negative ions are natural antidepressants and found in bucket loads near water. As such walking trails beside lakes or along river banks are recommended for their benefits to emotional health. While those brave enough to take a dip will experience blood vessels dilating in cool water all of which encourages the body to expel toxins and release feel good endorphins.
- Nature helps us get better.According to research undertaken by Professor Roger Ulrich at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, the countryside has a positive impact on convalescence. Ulrich’s research indicates that even a view of trees from a hospital window improves rates of recovery.
- Dark skies help set our biological clocks.In 2009, the American Medical Association adopted a resolution in support of controlling light pollution and claimed that “many species (including humans) need darkness to survive and thrive”. Dark skies at night are conducive to the natural functioning of our body’s biological clock which is set by the nocturnal release of the hormone melatonin. One of the impacts of reduced amounts of melatonin is increased amounts of oestrogen, the hormone linked with breast cancer.
- Time outdoors is essential to healthy aging.Our world shrinks as we grow older. As it does all the physical, emotional and social benefits of the outdoors diminish in our lives. The connection between less time outdoors and the acceleration of dementia is considerable. The multiple authors of an Open University research paper entitledThe impact of early dementia on outdoor life: A ‘shrinking world’? claim that “maintaining outdoor activity is likely to be an effective preventative measure in extending the period of good quality living”.