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At Fitness and Nature™, we believe that nature and exercise go hand in hand, which is why we are excited to share the five benefits of green exercise! Spending time in a natural environment can have a remarkably positive impact on your health and wellbeing. Not only can it improve your mental and physical health, but it can decrease stress levels, increase happiness levels, and even boost your immune system. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore what green exercise is, the benefits it has to offer, and how you can incorporate it into your daily routine.
What is Green Exercise?
Green exercise is a term used to describe physical activity that takes place in a natural outdoor environment. It can include activities such as hiking, biking, walking, and kayaking. Unlike traditional exercise routines that take place indoors, green exercise allows you to connect with nature while getting your daily dose of physical activity. Research has shown that green exercise can have numerous benefits to both physical and mental health, which we'll explore in more detail below.
Benefits of Green Exercise
Boosts Your Mood
One of the most significant benefits of green exercise is the positive impact it can have on your mental health. Green spaces have been shown to improve mood, reduce anxiety and depression, and help individuals cope with stressful situations. The fresh air, beautiful surroundings, and the wildlife that surrounds us in nature can provide a sense of calm and reduce the feelings of being overwhelmed.
Several studies have shown that exercising outdoors can help people feel more energetic and happy than those who exercise inside. This is because people often feel more relaxed and rejuvenated when they spend time in nature. Even as little as 20 minutes in a green space can have an immediate positive impact on mood and mental health. So, if you're feeling down, consider taking your workout outdoors and enjoy the benefits of green exercise.
Improves Physical Health
Green exercise also offers several physical health benefits. Moving your body in a green space has been shown to increase cardiovascular health, improve joint mobility and strengthen bones. Regardless of age or fitness level, green exercise can help you maintain your physical health. Furthermore, due to the benefits of Vitamin D absorbed by natural light, just 30 minutes in nature under sunlight a day can improve bone structure, mood, and motivation. Plus, you can burn more calories by walking on natural terrain than walking the same distance on a flat surface.
Feeling stressed out recently? One of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety is by spending time in a natural environment. Green spaces naturally provide us with a sense of calm and tranquility, which can help us to escape our daily worries. When you're immersed in nature, your mind focuses on the beautiful surroundings instead of any sources of anxiety or stress.
Physical activity, in general, can be a powerful tool in reducing stress, but practicing green exercise can amplify this effect. A study conducted at the University of Essex found that exercising in nature was more effective in reducing stress than indoor workouts.
When you exercise outdoors, you are exposed to a wide variety of natural elements, including plants and trees. These natural elements have a positive impact on the immune system and can help you stay healthy in the long run. Exposure to plants and nature has been shown to boost the immune system function and improve overall well-being in children and adults.
If you've ever had trouble sleeping, you know how challenging it can be to remain functional the next day. Lack of quality sleep can negatively affect your well-being, work performance, and energy levels throughout the day. Fortunately, green exercise can offer relief, serving as a natural sleep enhancer and a tool to combat insomnia.
A study from the University of Illinois found that participants slept substantially more when they exercise outside than when they exercise inside. Sleep quality was improved even more when participants spent more time in nature. Green exercise will provide your body with the physical exercise it needs while also being an opportunity for relaxation. Making sure you catch a breath of fresh air during the day can help you relax, unwind, and prepare your body for a good night's sleep.
Quick Tips and Facts
- Hiking and walking are great forms of green exercise that you can do anywhere and adaptations to these exercises (like power walking) can increase intensity
- Make sure you have appropriate gear, such as comfortable shoes, to prevent injuries
- Spending time in nature can be a great moment to connect with others, like inviting friends to join you
- Exercising in natural spaces can make you happier and more motivated to keep up with the routine.
What is Unique with Green Exercise?
Green exercise is a unique approach to physical activity in that it uses the natural environment as a setting. This concept has been around for thousands of years, and it is an approach that is becoming more popular in today's society. Green exercise allows us to engage with nature while providing us opportunities to challenge our physical abilities. It breaks down the barriers that typically come with gym-based workouts and invites us to step out of our comfort zone. Green exercise is designed to integrate physical and mental health with the environment, providing a holistic approach to well-being.
What is an Example of a Green Exercise?
There are several forms of green exercise that you can try, making it easy to incorporate into your life. Here is a list of green exercises you can do:
- Walking or hiking
- Jogging or running
- Stand-up paddleboarding
- Rock climbing
How Green Exercise Can Improve Feelings of Well-Being and Happiness?
As briefly mentioned earlier, green exercise has been shown to have numerous benefits to both physical and mental health. These benefits extend beyond just mood and stress reduction. Studies have found that spending time in nature can increase self-esteem, reduce fatigue, and improve overall well-being. Connecting with nature can improve feelings of awe, the sense of being part of something bigger, which allows us to feel connected and to the moment. Additionally, being in nature has been shown to increase mindfulness and reduce anxiety, which can lead to a more positive outlook on life.
Q: What are the other benefits of Green exercise?
There are several other benefits of green exercise, including:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving concentration and focus
- Improving self-esteem
- Improving cognitive functioning
In general, green exercise is an excellent way to improve your physical and mental health and overall well-being. By connecting with nature, you'll feel more energized and happier, making it easier to tackle your daily tasks.
Q: Are there any downsides to green exercise?
As with any form of exercise, green exercise does come with some risks. These risks can range from weather hazards and encountering wildlife to uneven terrain and unfamiliar routes. Make sure to protect yourself by wearing appropriate clothing and using protective gear when needed, and researching any potential hazards before embarking on a new green exercise activity.
Q: What can I do to get started with green exercise?
Getting started with green exercise is relatively simple. The most important thing is to choose an outdoor activity that you enjoy. Start small and gradually increase the duration and difficulty of your workouts. If you're unsure of where to begin, consider working with a personal trainer or signing up for a guided hike or outdoor class. Remember, green exercise is all about experiencing the beauty of the natural environment while staying active.
Q: Can I still practice green exercise if I live in a city?
Absolutely. While living in a city might not offer wide-open spaces like rural areas, there are still plenty of ways to incorporate green exercise into your routine. Consider walking or cycling to and from work, taking a stroll through a local park or hiking along a nearby trail. Many urban environments now have designated lanes and paths for cyclists and walkers, making it easier than ever to get started.
In summary, green exercise can have a significant positive impact on your physical, mental and emotional well-being. It allows us to connect with nature and gain the therapeutic effects of natural elements. By incorporating green exercise into your lifestyle, you can improve your mood, boost your immune system, decrease stress and anxiety, improve physical health and enhance your overall well-being. Remember to take the necessary precautions to ensure you're safe in the natural environment, such as protective gear, suitable clothes, and research for potential hazards. Lastly, make sure to have fun and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors while staying active.
Investing time is investing in yourself and your wellness. Get started today and explore the beauty of green exercise.
- Ecotherapy: The Healing Power of Nature by Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist
- National Sleep Foundation. Exercise for better sleep. 2013
- Baboli Zahra, Nargess Eskandari, Maryam Bosak, and Kyle Storey, "The Benefits of Green Exercise for Physical and Mental Health," International Journal of Environmental Science and Development vol. 6, no. 7, pp. 540-544, 2015.