Health & Wellness

10 Benefits Of Walking In Nature

February 23, 2023

Serenity Here
I devour health and wellness information, and love to share everything that works in my life, so you can use the same self care and lessons in yours!
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How walking outside can positively affect your health 

I’ve never been much of a runner. I mean, for years I placed it on my goals list as something I wanted to aspire to become. I entered myself in a couple 5K’s and even started running with a friend one year. More for the connection than for the running!

I just never really got into it. Maybe I just couldn’t kick the negative connection to running the mile in middle school and going back to class for the rest of the day looking like a tomato, and being asked all day if I was alright. Yes, my face would turn bright red, and it felt like it took forever to get back to my normal color!

When everyone was pushed to start working from home in 2020, and I still had a “9 to 5” career, I started to take much better care of myself. It was evident that my body was screaming at me to slow down, and then the world kinda made me, when everything changed through the pandemic. 

I’ve never gone back to the crazy, chaotic lifestyle that once drove me. That’s when I started to walk outside, when I started to work from home.  I fell in love with it. The fresh air, the sunshine, the view of nature all around me. 

I try to do other things through the winter when it’s difficult to walk outside. For the last few years, I have been counting down the days until Spring, when I can get outside again. I know I can walk in the winter, but it’s just not the same. 

I think walking is underrated. I know when I thought about walking, before I became a walker, it seemed like it was a form of cardio for older people. At least that’s how I thought of it. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love biking, and all the other things, but walking outside gives you so much more than just the movement. There’s so many benefits. 

Here’s 10 benefits of walking in nature:

(Most of what I mention below is based on 30 minute walks, 5 days a week. Totally doable, right!)

  1. Have a healthier heart. Walking outside results in fewer heart attacks or strokes, lowers blood pressure and gives you higher levels of healthy cholesterol – HDL. And heart disease is reduced by almost 20%. Yes, 20%!
  1. Fresh air. Nothing beats a breath of fresh air – literally! Filling up our lungs with fresh oxygen keeps our brain function healthy, and healing. It also cleans the lungs, lowers your heart rate, improves digestion, boosts your mood, and increases energy levels. Stepping outside for even a quick walk, especially in the afternoon when you hit that slump time of day can do wonders for giving you a boost to finish out the work day. 
  1. Natural Vitamin D. We absorb this powerhouse vitamin through our skin, which comes from none other than – natural sunshine. This vitamin is essential for our brain, and reduces inflammation. Heard of SAD –  Seasonal Affective Disorder? Also referred to as Winter Blues. A deficiency in vitamin D has been shown to exacerbate this. 75% of Americans are said to be deficient, and with that deficiency we increase our risk for things like: Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, rickets, and prostate cancer. 
  1. Stress Reduction. What better way to take us away from worry, then to be in nature and focused on the present moment –  the now. Use your senses to add an extra layer of stress reduction, then just the natural benefits of being outside and in the sun. Listen for the birds, hear the leaves blowing through the trees, or really look at the color of the trees, and the leaves. Focus on your breath, and feel the breeze on your face. 
  1. Strengthen your bones. Running, like walking, is a weight bearing activity, but walking gives us the advantage of light impact. This means this type of exercise works directly on our bones, unlike swimming and biking, which slows mineral loss, and also provides us cardiovascular benefits, boosting our circulatory system. The light impact, bone strengthening also helps protect us from osteoporosis and fractures. 
  1. Lose weight. What better way to help you lose weight, then something that’s easy on the joints, boosts your mood, and is free! It’s cardio that can be adjusted, starting small and slow and then working your way up to faster and longer. Even just 10 minutes is something everyone can fit in. Break it up and do 10 minutes over lunch, and then 10 minutes after dinner. Then start to increase this when you’re comfortable. 
  1. Improve your sleep.  Familiarly with circadian rhythm? Getting some sun exposure at different times of the day is great for signaling to our body what time it is. This will not only help you fall asleep, but it also helps your quality of sleep, not to mention movement to the body, helps to keep us energized during the day, and a little extra tired at night when it’s time to hit the hay. 
  1. Reduce cravings. New research conducted by the University of Exeter, found that walking can curb cravings for sugar. So although walking can help rev up your metabolism, you can reduce your sugar cravings too. Win!
  1. Boost your energy levels. Ditch the afternoon coffee break and lace up those shoes instead. Research shows that replacing your cup of coffee for a 20 minute walk gives you the same boost the coffee would have. And, bonus, it will help not hinder your sleep. 
  1. Boost your creativity. Stuck in a rut? Can’t find your flow, and need a little boost to get those creative juices flowing again. Instead of an afternoon nap, get outside to refresh your brain’s thinking power. 

Ok, are you sold yet? I mean, if it wasn’t 6 degrees outside right now, I’d be headed out to enjoy the sun in the sky and all these amazing benefits. Heard of runners high? Walkers can get similar mood boosters. 

Any other benefits you get from a daily walk? I mean, why just leave it at 10 – feel free to add to the list in the comments below.

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