“The poetry of the earth is never dead,” said John Keats. Are you experiencing it? Here is a whole list of reasons you need to go for a 30-minute walk outside in nature today:
Increases Attention and Decision Making Skills
Even mild exertion from something like taking a brief walk improves your mental functioning because of the increased oxygen created by the heart. Walking on a regular basis also promotes connections between brain cells (neuroplasticity), lowers the usual withering of brain tissue as we age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.
If You Walk Barefoot, You Can Ground Yourself
Earthing or grounding refers to the practice of reversing the positive electrons which build up in our bodies due to exposure to WiFi, bad diets, etc. positive electrons form free radicals which cause our cells to die faster. When we ground with the earth allowing the soles of our feet or any other body part to touch bare ground, it balances out this positive charge with a negative, grounding charge that greatly boosts our health.
You’ll be 50% More Creative
A study done in 2012 revealed that a group of backpackers were 50% more creative after they spent four days walking on a hiking trail.
You’ll Soak Up More Vitamin D
If we spend more time outdoors, we are more likely to get the levels of Vitamin D we need for cell growth, bone strength, the reduction of inflammation, and staving off depression.
Age More Gracefully
Researchers found in a twelve-year study that people who spent time outside had lower age-related complaints that those who spent most of their days indoors.
Be More Inspired to Work Out
Even if you are a gym rat, spending time outside promotes your desire to go back to the gym. Being surrounded in natural beauty makes exercise feel easier, so we are more likely to want to tackle a boring 45-minute treadmill session at the gym when there’s inclement weather.
Moderate exercise like walking practiced daily over a period of six months has been shown to change certain areas of the brain, making your memory sharper and clearer than before you started the practice.
Got sleep problems? A 20-minute walk can increase serotonin and other hormones which help to regulate sleep cycles and help you fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
Improves Mobility in People with Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s causes the brain to deteriorate making even simple motor skills like placing one foot in front of the other difficult. Walking, however, helps people suffering from Parkinson’s much more mobile.
Cuts Your Risk of Alzheimer’s in Half
Gardening or dancing will do the trick too, but taking daily walks will cut your risk of Alzheimer’s in half.
Boosts Your Immune System
A study found that walking just 20 minutes a day can cut your chances of catching a cold or flu during “sick” season by 43%. If you do get sick, it will cut the length and severity of your illness considerably.
Reduces the Incidence of Colon Cancer by 40%
Walking a mile a day, something that can easily be done at a moderate pace in about 30-40 minutes can cut your chances of getting colorectal cancer in half. This is likely because walking also stimulates digestion. Studies have shown that walking right after a meal speeds the rate at which the food moves through the colon, and can clear the glucose from your bloodstream to lower your blood sugar as well. Walking post-meal can also reduce bloating and that uncomfortable feeling of having stuffed yourself too full.
Keeps Your Weight Healthy
Adding just 30 minutes of brisk walking a day can burn up to 150 extra calories. This can help you to lose weight if you are trying to, and helps to maintain a healthy weight if you are already your ideal weight. That’s not the real secret to walking for a healthy weight though. Many people are unaware that walking counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes. It also curbs sweet cravings in as little a 15 minutes, so you are less likely to eat those high-calorie “treats” if you just go for a walk.
Reduces the Tendency to Dwell on Negative Aspects of Life
If you want to think positively, and do it with ease, taking a walk through any green space will do the trick. Researchers proved this to be true in a study conducted by Gregory Bratman and his colleagues. They were trying to figure out the effects of urbanization on people’s moods since more than 70% of the world is expected to live in a large city by the end of 2050. The researchers found that spending as little as twenty minutes a day walking in a green space could lower the tendency to ruminate of negative things.
Walking with someone we love can also allow us time to build our personal relationships while getting al the benefits of a clear-mind and open heart that come with being in nature and getting moderate exercise.
Increases Feelings of Well-Being and Inspiration
The poet Walt Whitman (author of Leaves of Grass) spent many of his hours walking in nature. He said, “I believe the leaf of grass is no less the journey-work of the stars.” He also advised, “Keep your face toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.” He talked highly of nature, saying that it could lead us to our own personal salvation. He was constantly inspired by nature, and you can be too.
Reduces Back Pain
Walking releases endorphins which are our body’s own natural painkillers. It also keeps our body more functional so that we experience less low back pain, which is often due to prolonged sitting, or a sedentary lifestyle.
An Australian study found that regular walking alone can reduce depression, and doing in nature ups the ante even more. Stanford scientists also think they may have unraveled the reason that spending time in nature lowers our feelings of depression and anxiety – they think it stops people from thinking about stuff that makes them depressed. Seeing the colors of nature – blues, greens, etc. are also known to change our brain waves to those which create feelings of happiness and well-being. If that wasn’t enough to convince you to walk, researchers also believe walking in nature relieves general mental fatigue, and elicits feelings of awe.
Increases Joint Health
Walking can help restore joint health. When we walk, nutrient dense blood is circulated into the cartilage which acts like a sponge to soak it up. This can help to prevent joint injuries, and to lessen joint pain. It helps to rebuild the joint on a microscopic level.
Works Your Arms, Core, and Shoulder Muscles, Not Just Legs
We all know that walking works our legs, glutes, ankles, and feet, but were you aware that you also use your core to support an upright position, your shoulder muscles, and your arms? Maintaining a good walking posture can be a full-body workout.
Alleviates Risk of Cardiovascular Disease by 60%
Exercise of any kind lowers your risk of heart disease by 60%. Walking just happens to be one of the easiest types of exercise to do every day.
If you are exhausted you may not want to go for a walk, but research suggests that, aside from getting more sleep, you can reduce your fatigue by 65% just by ding exactly that. As Dr. Tim Puetz, a researcher who led one study suggests, “Too often we believe that a quick workout will leave us worn out — especially when we are already feeling fatigued, However, we have shown that regular exercise can actually go a long way in increasing feelings of energy — particularly in sedentary individuals.”
You Can Commune with the Divine
There’s a reason why the Daoists revered nature and many a hermit or sadhu has spent time in a forest or mountain cave meditating. The quiet offered by nature is a way for us to get closer to our truest, divine nature, and we don’t have to be a monk to do it. Walking meditation is also highly recommended.
Where can you walk in nature today?