Today I ran with a difference...... I love to run. Running is my soul time. My time. But I have to admit that lately, running at 5 am around the streets in the freezing cold darkness of the early morning, had began to loose some of its sparkle.
Today as my legs took me along my usual ‘Friday route’ (yup! I’m a stickler for routine), my heart lit up…It was light enough again to run down the bush trails! I hang for this time of year, when the light allows for me begin my day with a run through the bush!
I love running through the trails in the bush. It makes me feel like I’m 5 years old! It makes me stay in the moment (otherwise I would promptly fall on my face!) and appreciate the beauty of the world, before the rest of the world wakes up.
As I accelerated through the bush, I imagined that I was a wild animal… I leapt logs, dodged rocks and jumped over creeks. I felt free!! I felt honoured to move. I watched the sun rise over the lake. I watched the full moon set over the trees and as I wiped the spider webs from my face I felt happy. I felt relaxed. Exhilarated and content.
We know that moving outside in nature makes us feel amazing – but did you know some of the other research based benefits?
Walking in Nature for just 20 minutes considerably reduces cortisol levels
Research demonstrates that as little as 20 minutes of walking outside can considerably reduce cortisol levels and perceived feelings of stress and anxiety (Tryvainen, Korpela, et al, 2014). Perceived feelings of stress and anxiety further reduced by taking this time and walking in nature, in opposed to an urban environment.
Walking in Nature aids in puts us in a better mood
Research demonstrated significant cognitive gains in people diagnosed with severe depression after 50 minutes walking in nature. Researchers suggesting that interacting with nature may be clinically useful as a supplement to existing treatment in major depressive disorder (Berman, Kross, et al 2012).
Walking in Nature Improves Concentration
Research shows that just 20 minutes spent in a nature setting can enhance our concentration levels. In fact, the power of nature to enhance concentration has even been studied with children who are affected with ADHD, Researcher’s wrote “Doses of nature’ might serve as a safe, inexpensive, widely accessible new tool….for managing ADHD (Taylor & Kuo 2009).
Walking in Nature boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation
Research in Japan has demonstrated an increase in the immune system through time spent in nature. Participants were taken into a forest environment for one week. Blood and urine samples were taken via blood markers on day two and on day seven. These samples demonstrated an increase in immune markers within this group within this demonstrated time frame (Lee 2009).
Further research demonstrated a group of hypertensive individuals with high levels of inflammatory markers sent to a forest setting for a period of one week. Completion of a seven day period spent in a forest environment demonstrated markedly reduced levels of inflammation and lowered markers of hypertension within these individuals within this time.
Exercising outside has also demonstrated to reduce the perceived level of exertion - meaning we don't feel as puffed training outside, as we may do if we were training in a gym environment.
What an awesome way to start the day!!
Keep it simple. Lace up your shoes, and head out for a stroll….