Exercising outdoors is a perfect antidote to stress

Longer, brighter, and sometimes warmer days offer plenty of inspiration and opportunities to get out, move, and enjoy nature. We live in strange and difficult times. We are just coming out of a pandemic. This week two years ago was the last “normal” week we had and we didn’t know it at the time. Current events around the world are devastating lives and livelihoods in ways we are only beginning to understand.

hen life gets stressful, it’s even more important for us to make an effort to strengthen our positive coping mechanisms. If we don’t make a conscious choice to reinforce positive responses to stress, we will naturally end up relying on more negative coping mechanisms, which will lead to more unhealthy stress and leave us less equipped to deal with problems. Every day presents new problems. When there are more changes and more challenges and unfortunately devastation in the world, more of them land in front of us. In addition to giving you the ability to handle more stress, improving your physical well-being increases feelings of strength and confidence and also improves your mental well-being.

A recent ESRI report covering the period from February 15 to 22 indicates that “one in five people are still very worried”. The report says that as concerns about COVID decrease, worries about the economy increase.

Exercising outdoors offers a powerful antidote to the stress and worries that so many people experience. Even ten minutes of brisk walking increases your mental alertness, energy and generates a positive mood. Engaging in regular physical activity can boost your self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise naturally relieves tension, boosts physical and mental energy and releases endorphins improving your sense of well-being.

The same ESRI report also pointed out that “people who walk, run, or cycle every day report significantly higher well-being.” Exercise has so many benefits. It improves your memory and brain function. It protects against many chronic diseases. It helps with weight management and improves sleep quality. It improves your heart health and lowers blood pressure. In addition to reducing depression and anxiety, it alleviates cancer-related fatigue. Exercise benefits both our physical and mental health. Understanding and thinking about the benefits can motivate you to take the time to establish a regular routine.

Exercising outdoors has many additional benefits for mind, body, and spirit. Just being outside is uplifting. For those who rely on coffee for a boost, a study shows that spending 20 minutes outdoors gives your brain a boost comparable to a cup of coffee. The smell of flowers and plants has been shown to generate feelings of calm and relaxation. Natural sunlight boosts your immune system and eyesight. Scientists have observed that breathing in airborne chemicals produced by plants increases our levels of white blood cells, helping us fight off disease and infection. Being outdoors has also been shown to reduce pain and increase vitamin D levels, which helps you reduce inflammation and absorb calcium into the body. Over 90% of the vitamin D we get comes from occasional exposure to sunlight. Spending time outdoors has also been shown to boost creativity and improve concentration.

Exercise alone has many benefits. Being outdoors has many benefits. Together, they offer a powerful cocktail boosting your health and well-being. This month, take advantage of the longer days to get out and move more. And repeat and enjoy.

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