On average, people in modern society spend less time outdoors than ever before in history. However, each of us can do something to increase our time outdoors.
Making an effort to walk regularly – or head on weekly longer hikes, if you’re a little more ambitious – can significantly enrich your life. Consider the following health benefits that walking can offer:
Relaxing regularly will leave you better equipped to handle life’s pressures, and walking, especially in nature, is the perfect way to unwind after a long day. It’s a great way to spend some time contemplating your problems, too - you may just find an innovative solution to something that’s been worrying you next time you take a walk outdoors.
Although spending time walking in nature isn’t a complete cure for anxiety, it certainly has a calming effect on the mind, especially if it’s combined with mindfulness exercises.
Higher fitness levels
Exercising regularly is great for your body, and you might be surprised at how quickly you are able to build stamina. Walk every day, even just for 30 minutes, and you’ll soon be feeling much more capable of doing all sorts of physical tasks.
Better office breaks
Spending 40 hours a week sitting at a cramped desk isn’t the ideal space for your body or mind to grow, but you can remedy the adverse effects of office life by walking regularly. Try going for a walk on your lunch break if you find yourself short on time after work.
Even if your office is in the middle of a city, you might still be able to find a waterfront, small park, or other peaceful, green area nearby. You’ll likely be able to focus much better when you return to work, too.
The friendships that hiking often offers can very much be considered a health benefit, as a sense of community and belonging is an integral part of mental health. Why not join a hiking club and make some new friends while you walk and explore new places?
Walking barefoot is a great way to increase the strength in your feet, which will allow you to exercise more often and improve your balance. Some studies even suggest that walking barefoot can help your immune system. All too often we rely on shoes when they aren’t necessary - so channel your ancestors and kick yours off every once in a while, before walking in nature.
Improved general health
Walking has been shown to decrease the risk of many serious diseases, including heart disease and stroke. In addition to this, walking can help to strengthen your bones. Walking can also help with existing conditions; for example, while if you have back problems, you should check with your GP before you start a new exercise regime, it’s likely that walking will help to alleviate symptoms.
According to studies, spending time in nature can help us to feel generally less tired, thanks to its ‘restorative power’. Even just looking at photos of nature can help, but you’ll be doing yourself much more of a favour by getting the real thing.
Nature is highly positive for the mind, body and soul, and the best way to reap its benefits is to explore it. Next time you’re feeling a little down or a bit restless after a week spent at your desk, why not take a walk or go for a long hike? You’ll likely notice an improvement in both your mood and your physical wellbeing, and if you can convince your friends to join you, you can make walking into a social activity too!
Full-time freelance writer Cloe resides in the lovely South Island city of Dunedin, New Zealand. She has penned articles for various sites and blogs, including the business and technology site Trustpower. Discover more of Cloe’s work on Tumblr.