March 23, 2016
I am sure you’ve heard us say it before, but we love being outdoors. Weekends are usually spent at the park, rambling through the Peak District or reading in the garden (here's Nat and the boys out in Ecclesall Woods in Sheffield). We don’t just like to use the natural world for its plentiful supply of ingredients but also for the peace of mind it brings when wandering through its fine landscapes. Turns out, it wasn’t just us that think the outdoors are great, someone – well, lots of people – did some science and discovered it does you actual good to be outside...
1. First of all, getting outside has major health benefits. Fresh air works wonders on the respiratory system and sunlight restores levels of vitamin D, which is pretty essential for healthy bones.
2. It also good for the mind. It is well documented that walking isn’t just good for your legs but also your brain. When you begin exercising, your body releases a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which helps to both repair and protect the brain. This is why a lunch time walk can often help with problem solving at work. If you want, you can walk from your desk to the cafeteria, but a wander out in the great outdoors will probably be more satisfying!
3. And there is lots of scope for other activities outdoors to get your BDNF and endorphins flowing. Particularly complicated hobbies that require a lot of thought, such as climbing or intense competitive sport, can also induce a “flow” state where the sense of self is diminished and the participant is totally immersed in the activity at hand. A little bit like meditation but with more movement.
4. The natural world will calm you right down too, not least because it sounds and smells good. You might not realise it, but sounds have a big impact on your wellbeing and apparently bird song makes us feel happy. Plus, due to the fact our sense of smell is linked to the part of our brain that processes emotion, the scents we inhale have a big impact on us. So, trees and plants emit phytoncides, which slows breathing and reduces anxiety.
5. It is great for little kids and big kids! Whether you want to build a fort, climb a tree or craft a daisy chain, the natural world is the perfect source of inspiration for a vivid imagination. Running through the trees boosts fitness and promotes experience over technology, which is handy because walk in the park is much cheaper than an iPad.
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