Why You Should Get Outside!

This week, I’m at the cottage enjoying the summer sun.  I’ve been swimming, kayaking, and  walking in the woods – and let me tell you – it’s been pure bliss. The truth is, after our rather cool spring was followed by a horrible heat wave during which air conditioning was required, I was starting to feel trapped inside.  It just didn’t feel right! Turns out, it isn’t.  

Does this routine seem familiar? Wake up, drive to work, sit at your desk all day, drive home, have dinner, watch TV,and then go to bed.

How much time did you spend outdoors today? When was the last time you were in a beautiful, natural setting? Modern living has eliminated our need for spending time in nature; however, research is finding that our health and well-being are suffering as a result of this nature deprivation.  So this month, do your body, mind and a spirit a favour!  Just one thing.  Get your vitamin “G”!

You may be wondering, what is vitamin G?  To me, vitamin G  means green space.  The kind that surrounds us – including parks, forests, gardens, and other natural settings.  The truth is that most of us aren’t getting nearly enough green. Stats show that Canadians spend 95% of their day indoors or in their car, including an average 6 hours of screen time which now recognized as a risk factor for mental health disorders. Our kids are spending an average of 6 minutes a day doing outdoor activities! When I was young, I spent countless hours playing outside with all the neighbourhood kids.

Why does all of this matter?

The fact is that natural settings are not only visually appealing, but they have powerful healing properties. Nature scenes stimulate alpha wave production associated with relaxed wakefulness and reduced anxiety. Studies have also shown that walking in a forest environment (versus walking in urban environment) is associated with elevated levels of DHEA (our anti-aging hormone) and improved immune function. Even the plant oil vapours found in the air of natural settings can enhance production of GABA, the brain’s own calming chemical while also boosting mood-enhancing serotonin.

What are the benefits of vitamin G?

  • Reduced cortisol (stress hormone) levels
  • Reduced muscular tension
  • Lower blood pressure and heart rate
  • Improved concentration in children with ADHD
  • Improved mood (reduces anxiety and depression)

Enhance your health and well-being by spending more time in nature. Here are a few tips for increasing Vitamin G:

  • Take your workout outside: walk or run along a waterway, along a trail or in a forest, or do your own bootcamp at your local park
  • Park your car: try walking or cycling (at least part of way if the distance is too far)
  • Get your kids outside. Make family play time a priority by getting the whole family outside
  • Green your office: bring in a few potted plants (Ivy and Peace Lilies are great air purifiers) and put up pictures of your favorite nature scenes.
  • Take the 30×30 Challenge and commit to spending 30 minutes each day outside for the next 30 days.
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