The Power of Nature
Why is it so important for us to connect with nature and be outdoors? Because mounting research shows the profound effect that fresh air, plants, trees and natural outdoor elements have on our health and well being. When you spend time outdoors, especially being active, you can lift your mood, think more positively, feel more internal calm and greater harmony with the world around you.
Recent studies have shown that being in a natural, outdoor environment is one of the very best things you can do for your health:
Levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate our mood, rises when we are outside. A study at the University of Queensland found that regular outdoor runners were less anxious and depressed than people who ran indoors on a treadmill, and had higher levels of post-exercise endorphins, the feel-good brain chemicals associated with “runner’s high".
- Exposure to nature reduces pain and illness and speeds recovery time. In one study of post-operative patients, those who had rooms with a view of natural surroundings needed less pain medication and spent fewer days in the hospital than those who faced a brick wall. In another study of prisoners in Michigan, those who were able to view sky, grass and trees had 24 percent fewer infirmary visits and significantly fewer digestive illnesses and headaches.
- Being in nature reduces stress-related anger and enhances sociability. Frances Kuo, a researcher at the University of Illinois, has shown that being around grass and greenery reduces rates of domestic violence and school truancy and leads to better grades and increased social interaction. And a study by Dr. David Lewis, the man who coined the term “road rage,” found that the scent of grass has a significant calming effect on out-of-control drivers.
- You also do your lungs a favor when you exercise outdoors: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air in the U.S. is two* to five times more polluted than outdoor air (meaning the outdoor air is 75% less polluted than indoor air!). Fresh air is also rich in negative ions (oxygen molecules with an extra electron). These negative ions have been linked to improved sense of well-being, heightened awareness and alertness, decreased anxiety, and a lower resting heart rate.
- NOTE FROM EPA: “Indoor air levels of many pollutants may be 2-5 times, and occasionally, more than 100 times higher than outdoor levels.”
Outdoor Fitness not only delivers all of these very real physiological benefits, it offers you an easy-to-follow, scientifically based, exhilarating way to exercise in the outdoors. Whether you are looking to begin a new exercise program, you’re bored and frustrated with the one you have, or you are looking to increase your sports performance, you will discover a new sense of vitality, confidence, and sheer pleasure of being alive – as your body gets in the best shape of its life. We don’t all need to pick up stakes and move to the woods or the mountains in order to re-establish our health, but we do need to spend time outside. The EPA estimates that we spend more than 90% (many scientists argue this number is higher) of our time indoors, inside our homes, our offices, our cars – we rarely indulge in this connection.