Spring has definitely shown up on our landscape. Grass is green, baby animals are bounding and nights are shorter. The gym has been a reliable friend over winter and will always be there for you, but it is time to GET YOUR GREEN ON.
Many of the health benefits of exercising outdoors are obvious, especially in nature: the scenery is inspiring and ever-changing, the air is fresh and fragrant (no-one can convince me that gyms smell great), and the quiet to be found in hills and forests helps to calm our sympathetic nervous systems. However new research has shown that there are also very scientific and specific advantages to “green exercise.”
GET YOUR NATURE ON
In a recent study, researchers compared over 800 participants divided into “indoor gym” and “outdoor scenery” exercise groups. They measured the subjects’ blood pressure, heart rate and self-esteem before and after a controlled (heart rates were kept as similar as possible) session of exercise.
Post exercise measurements showed reduced blood pressure and improved self-esteem in both groups. However the “outdoor scenery” group showed much more significant blood pressure reduction, and in addition to improved self esteem, they also reported results hits of mental revitalization, huge boosts in emotional vitality and elevated enthusiasm for the remainder of their day. Positive feelings such as these help to “proof” our minds and bodies against stress and help prevent stress-related disease.
GET YOUR SUN ON
Exercising outdoors also gives us the opportunity to expose our skin to sunshine. Although this practice gets a pretty bad rap in New Zealand, it is important to remember that Vitamin D is essential for strong bones and a healthy immune system. Exposure to sunlight can also reduce pain, improve the quality of your sleep and regulate hormone production, resulting in increased feel-good endorphins.
GET YOUR EARTH ON
Very recent research has shown that even without exercising, just being outside and in direct contact with the earth is very important for neutralizing the overload of positively charged electrons in our bodies. Positively charged free radicals occur naturally in our bodies, but when combined with the man-made electrical energy generated by wifi and cell phones (also positively charged), we can overload ourselves to the point where damage can occur. Regular “earthing” neutralizes these positive electrons and returns our bodies to the same neutral, natural state of the earth.
GET YOUR UNDERFOOT ON
The best way to maintain strong healthy micro-muscles is by walking and running on uneven natural ground and unpredictable surfaces such as sand, pine needles and loose rock. Our tendons and ligaments grow lazy and weak with the repetitive actions and flat floors in the gym. Moving around on irregular surfaces keeps our vital connective tissue as strong as the big gym muscles, helping prevent injuries and restore balance to our bodies.
GET YOUR HORIZON ON
As a society, our eyesight is deteriorating in direct correlation to the amount of time we spend indoors and looking at screens. Although the science is still not exact, it seems that exercising outside with changing light and varying distances helps keep our eyes strong and healthy, and can reduce instances of nearsightedness.
I challenge you to Get Your Green On, ditch the gym and roll with nature!