Whether it’s the feeling of being at one with nature, the smells, the sounds, the feeling of being a small part of a big world, or just escaping from the “grind” for a few minutes, a walk outside is a mood improver. Go dopamines, go. Swim with the endorphins.
Think how calm and peaceful you feel walking in a misty fog, or how centering it is to be out alone at dawn or dusk. Have you ever walked in the rain and inhaled the smell of the earth and water? Have you stormed out of the house in a bad mood, only to return refreshed and recovered after a walk around the block to “cool off?”
When we were kids (5 kids, to be specific), my mom would make us go outside whenever we’d start to fight with each other. She’d also tell us to take a walk around the block (which only had 3 houses on it) when we were upset or sad. Somehow she intuitively knew the power of a walk outside. Or she just wanted us out of her hair. Or both.
In any case, I’m fortunate because I live in Santa Barbara, where almost every walk has a gorgeous view. So even though I know an indoor treadmill will give me lots of fitness and health benefits, I will never give up my outdoor walks. Because they give me mental health benefits. And a chance to set aside my responsibilities for a while.
Read my sister’s post about 3 Ways to Work Out Naturally. You’ll understand why “nature” is the root of “naturally.” You’ll also find out why I asked about the blue sea and sky.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
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Get Out of Here, Ya Hear?
A related Fun Fit Fact: People who live near or on coasts tend to be more physically active compared to inland dwellers. Those fortunate to have ocean views (actually any blue water works), also report being happier than people without access to blue spaces. One theory is that gazing at the ocean triggers the brain to release dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. We post-menopausal women know all about hormones, especially the mood elevating ones, right?
Remember to Laugh; Laugh to Remember
2. Add humor to your workout. Another great natural life source is laughter. Not only does laughter act as self-produced medicine, but also it is proving to help memory. The stress hormone, cortisol can cause brain damage. Cortisol negatively affects both memory and learning ability, especially in older adults. This raises the question, “can laughter, which reduces stress, therefore improve memory?”
Turns out that, yup — lower stress leads to better memory. You saw that coming.
Breathe Right with the Left
3. Take half breaths for a whole life. Really looking to keep your memory in high drive, and not idle as you age? Then try a special breathing technique just after your humor boost. When you forgot which aisle you parked your car in, or why you entered a room, kick into left nostril breathing. That’s right, just the left! Block or press shut your right nostril and inhale through the left. Exhale. Repeat. 27 times. Let’s hope this works as you have to remember to count as you breathe!
For you smarties and thinkers who are always a step ahead (and that would be all of you who subscribe to our blog), you probably already thought of something. What if you combine all three activities? Run, walk, jog, mosey outdoors with a person who makes you laugh as you count up 27 left nostril breaths. Then get back to us in the comments to report what happened. Join the nature movement; free membership!
And take a look at this very short animation.
You got this far, so why not add a comment?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
I was soaking in the tub after teaching two exercise classes, turning the pages of my Spring 2014 issue of National Parks magazine, when what do I come across? A motivating article by Dr. Daphne Miller, entitled “A Prescription for Nature,” all about how going outdoors enhances your health.
“Pfffftt,” you say. “Where’s the news in that?” Well, when was the last time your doctor prescribed an outdoor jaunt?
According to the article, “…exposure to green space can affect (y)our health just as much as other lifestyle factors traditionally covered in a medical visit.” Living close to a park or garden is associated with reduced body mass and lowered stress. Also, older adults in greener neighborhoods have greater longevity. As Dr. Miller states, “our collective open spaces, from our vast national parks to our tiny city parks, act as a giant health reservoir.”
I’m all for diving into that reservoir. How about you? How about my sister, who announced (after being bitten by a ground wasp during a lake walk a few years ago) that she planned to “visit nature in a museum from now on!” Uh oh! i(Note from Alexandra: It’s all true. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a ground wasp. I still walk outside every day, but I bring along a flamethrower in case of wasps)
As a group fitness instructor, I advocate and adore indoor workouts. Yet, the idea of living longer and leaner with less stress by being a nature champion is also enticing! Ok, I also love being outdoors, and walk my dog almost every day.
Imagine checking in for your annual physical to get minutes spent exercising outdoors and in- noted on your chart along with your pulse, blood pressure, smoking and drinking habits, height, and weight.
Research convincingly shows that nature has a significant beneficial influence on our well-being. Need more back-up to get up and out? Cast your eye on these Fun Fit Facts. (please also pin them!)
Go outside this post by clicking on the pictures. Where will they take you?
Of course you’ll need something to wear on your walks. Via our affiliate links from Adidas (we will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on the link), today through August 10th, you can get $20 off all orders over $100 + free shipping! Now’s your chance to stock up on all of your favorites on adidas.com without the guilt of loading up your cart since it all ships free! Sale ends August 10. Promo Code: ADIDAS20
Then journey our way:
2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos Credits: taken by my fine self with my cell phone.
READERS: Where’s your favorite outdoor place or activity? When did you last go there or do that? Huh? huh?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: I took these photos while out on various power walks. Get fit; see nature; take pics; pair with quotes; share with you! What could be better?
This last quote–“Strive for Perfection, Not Progress“–is actually one of our favorites as it underscores our philosophy: process over an overwhelming goal; do something consistently versus do nothing or very little perfectly. We have run into so many people who say they want to be active, yet are stopped by “rules.” “Go this often, do exactly this routine, in this order, at this intensity. Don’t eat this; do eat that, and so on.” If you are already fit, then fine tuning like this is important. But if you are minimally active then anything is better than nothing. The key is to take action in the right direction as some action begets more action.
If motivational quotes help kick start your day, then use them (as they can’t be abused, really).
Alexandra: I am motivated by a quote from our colleague Dr. Michael Luan. He says, “What you move, you lose.” So if you twist your upper body when you walk, your chest will get smaller. If you move from the core, you can trim your waist. You can guess which one I prefer! As to my outfit, people have been wondering what we wear besides workout clothing, so this is one outfit that motivates me to stay fit, as I love these crazy shorts and want to fit into them forever!
Blue top – Green Apple Active
Wine top & Shorts – Ann Taylor
P.S. Did you know we compiled e-books chock full of inspirational, funny, on target health and fitness quotes: 63 Motivational Quotes and 73 Exercise Quotes? For one of the e-books (Mind Your Fitness – Mojo-vational Quotes and Sayings) we collaborated with one of best online motivators we know, Heather Frey of SmashFit. You can get our “30 Quotes to Fit You” e-book free by when you purchase any of the other documents. This compilation gives you a progressive quote a day for a month so you can stay on track when you start a new workout effort.
Also free via my Pinterest board, Quotes: Motivation and Exercise are a few Inspirational quotes like the three above. Why not follow us on Pinterest while you’re at it? KymberlyFunFit Pinterest and AlexandraFunFit Pinterest