Every morning come rain or shine I head out with our four legged friends for a walk. It has become a bit of a ritual, in fact it has now got to the point where I don’t even think about walking or not …. I just get up, put on my exercise clothes and go. I have noticed, over the years, that not only is their behaviour and energy levels better during the day but so are mine! Sure some days the walk is less energetic than others. Some days the walk is shorter than others but everyday I know that if I miss our walk I just won’t feel as good that day.
When we’re out it is my time to reflect on the day before, thinking what I could have done differently, and also to ‘prepare’ for the day ahead by saying a few affirmations as I walk. We also invariably get to chatting to another walker (usually a neighbour) at some point, get distracted by some new ‘stinky’ highlights (that is more the dogs than me it has to be said) or just enjoy the birdsong and the elements. Not being that eager to venture out too much in a day if I can help it, our morning walk is the main time when I get to tick off some of the ‘Five Ways to Well-being’ in a day. It is my way of ensuring I’m taking action about my health rather than feeling on the back foot and reacting when things don’t feel so great.
There is a lot of research out there which backs up what I’m experiencing too. The benefits of exercise on our health are proven but actually getting out into nature when you’re being active can amplify those benefits. Making the time to go outside and be in nature – both green (trees, grass, bush) and blue (rivers, lakes, sea) spaces – can also boost your well-being in many different ways. Using the green and blue spaces around you as part of your well-being routine can improve and regulate your moods, reduce stress and also help you feel more connected to the world. Evidence suggests that being in nature for more than 120 – 150 minutes a week (around 20 mins a day) is related to the best possible physical, as well as mental, health and well-being.
Now I’m aware that not everyone is as fortunate as us to have a river walk on their doorstep but being in nature can refer to many different things. It doesn’t have to be a mammoth trek in the mountains or an epic swim in the sea. It may be parks, gardens and allotments in an urban setting or even a trip to a wildlife park. It may be working on the land or being on farmland. It may be short bush walks or just the local botanical gardens. Maybe a stroll along a creek, stream, river or lake. Even sitting by the water fountain in the park will help gain some positive blue and green health effects.
Just stepping out onto your lawn to do a few breathing exercises and moving the body will help boost the impact of what you are doing. Getting into your garden (not my specialty I have to say), reading outside, taking a lunch break in the outdoors or just making the most of that walk to the car can all count. The best thing is there is nothing to lose in trying to add a bit more nature in your life and everything to gain.
Hope this finds you exploring, enjoying and engaging in the nature around you.