Celebrating Earth Day: The Benefits of Exercising in Nature
Nature is one of Earth’s many gifts, and in order to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd, we should appreciate it. According to environmentalist John Muir, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he/she seeks.” Exercising in nature should be incorporated in our daily lives, because it not only shows admiration for our planet, but provides us with benefits.
Exercising in nature is proven to improve mental health. Based on many scientific studies, what is known as green exercise, is shown to have a positive effect on mood and self-esteem. As explained in Woodland Trust, “By comparing different exercise settings, studies showed that regular use of woods or parks for physical exercise reduced the risk of poor mental health, whereas no such pattern was found in non-natural settings like gyms.” Also, the amount of sunshine in the woods naturally increases a hormone called serotonin, which affects your mood. This is added on to the endorphins being produced when you are exercising.
Furthermore, the forest setting can reduce stress building up from everyday activities. Simply listening to the outdoor sounds and being in fresh air, while making your body work (even when exercising) can lessen any extra pressure in the moment. As stated in Ecohappiness Project, “Exercise and being in and around nature reduces the level of stress hormones in our body like adrenaline and cortisol, helping us feel calmer.” Depression and anxiety is something many people struggle with all over the world, and spending time outdoors can prevent it while still staying active.
Additionally, nature’s unpredictable environment gives a stronger and harder workout, challenging anybody and everybody. Whether you want to go for a run, or just want to take a break, the Earth provides natural obstacles that are tough but conquerable. According to Woodland Trust, “With steep hills and undulating ground, a workout in the woods is always full of variety, and allows you to push yourself harder.” Because of these uncertain impediments, the woods set high standards that cannot be found anywhere else.
There are many great ways to get involved in nature exercises locally. For example, setting a schedule and planning out a run in the woods can improve your health both mentally and physically. Some exercises include: trail biking, running in the woods, outdoor yoga, or even taking a walk with your dog. Another option is adding goals and challenges such as: increasing speed and distance, or working on cardiovascular endurance.
Overall, using the beauties Earth offers us can help both on the mental and physical sides of our well-being. Start training in nature on April 22nd, to demonstrate your recognition on Earth Day. As Wendell Berry says, “Earth is what we all have in common.”
Health, Queensland. “What Is Green Exercise and Should You Be Doing It?” Qld.gov.au, 29 Jan. 2019,
www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/green-exercise-outdoors-nature-physical-mental-health. Accessed 15 Apr. 2022.
Piedmont. “7 Health Benefits of Outdoor Exercise.” Www.piedmont.org, www.piedmont.org/living-better/7-health-benefits-of-outdoor-exercise. Accessed 15 Apr. 2022.
Schwartz, Sandi. “Why Green Exercise Helps Reduce Stress and Boost Mood.” Ecohappiness Project, 1 June 2020, ecohappinessproject.com/green-ex
ercise/. Accessed 15 Apr. 2022.
Vickers, Hannah. “Woodland Wellness: The Benefits of Exercising in Nature.” Woodland Trust, 14 Jan. 2019, www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2019/01/the-benefits-of-exercising-in-nature/. Accessed 15 Apr. 2022.