It’s good to get out! Being outside is great for our physical and mental wellbeing in so many ways. We all know this, but it still can be difficult to get out. As a fairly new dog owner, I have definitely experienced the benefits of walking in nature and felt the positivity of giving myself that extra push to take that walk.
I work solely from home so spend most of my days alone with the laptop and my terrier, CJ. Adding a pet to our family was one of the reasons for that. Great company for me and I walk her in between deadlines. Initially the daily walk felt like another chore on my list. But over the last two years, I’ve really learnt to enjoy and appreciate this time by myself and the nature that surrounds me.
Of course, we don’t all own dogs (though I’d highly recommend), but with or without a pooch, the benefits of walking in nature are incredibly positive for self-care. Walking requires no equipment or gym gear, nor does it require a lot of energy. I sometimes grab my ear phones but just as often enjoy the sound of the birds and nature.
Here are some benefits of walking in nature that I’ve experienced. I hope they will also help you take that walk and feel positive about yourself.
There’s no denying it. Walking has been proven to boost our mood. It’s the same as any exercise, isn’t it? The thought before the activity might fill you with dread, but afterwards you never regret it. Exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel better. Even a short stroll of 10 minutes will do this, and this might be the best way to begin if you’re struggling to get motivated. Just commit to a quick walk. You may find that when you’re out, you just keep going. I often tell myself I’m only going out briefly, but then end up being an hour. Once I’m actually moving and enjoying it, it doesn’t feel any extra effort to go for that bit longer.
Choose A Green Route
Where you can, you should choose a green route, maybe through a local park, a woodland walk or public field – any route that isn’t plagued with heaps of traffic and noise. The key is to find some peace and quiet so you can connect with your thoughts and reset if needed. If surrounded by busy roads, head for the more quieter ones. As someone who lives on a main road that is busy all day long (all I hear is traffic), escaping for a quieter walk really helps me when I have to return to the background of noise.
It Helps Focus
As a mum to two very energetic young boys who almost always refuse to walk the dog with me, unless it involves the play park, which isn’t good for our dog CJ, I’ve found a woodland walk they both love, and that helps with their focus once we’re back. They will refuse all walks but this one woodland route I’ve discovered by the river (of course this won’t last forever). I have definitely found that after this hour’s walk, the boys are able to concentrate better and focus and the impulsive, chaotic behaviour improves. Nature is calming and the house is calmer afterwards (for a while). We have our best chats in the woods while seeking out rare birds and trees, and it feels like we are all taking a mental break and reconnecting.
Reduce stress Levels
If I’m feeling at all anxious and overwhelmed then a walk absolutely helps my stress levels and helps me feel connected to nature. This is because the activity reduces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Plus, any exercise reduces blood pressure. There’s a science to it. If you’re new to walking and are looking to reduce your blood pressure, you should see a difference within a few months of regular walks. You could also explore organised walking groups in your area like Walking For Health and meet some likeminded locals, which again would work as a huge mood booster. If I’m feeling a tad stressed, I’ll make a to-do list for the next few days after my walk when I’m feeling a bit more peaceful, which I find really helpful.
If you’re like me and find it hard to switch off when you go to bed, then a good daily walk can be really helpful. Just like walking can help reduce the stress hormones, Melatonin and other natural sleep hormones can be boosted by walking. Walking can help you fall asleep fast, studies have proven it, as long it’s at least three hours before you go to bed. Apparently, 7am is the best time to walk for a restful night, but that’s going to be an impossibility with all the morning chaos, and children to get out.
There are so many great benefits of walking in nature. Ultimately, it’s an incredibly simple, free and easy thing to do, but its benefits are really strong for our mental health and wellbeing. Sharing a few of the ways that walking helps me will hopefully motivate you as well. Just find a little green space and take that time just for you, to gather your thoughts and connect with nature, no matter what the distance. Nature is everywhere.
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