The Power of a Nature Walk

Nature walks can be very powerful.

They can be a form of therapy.

A way to calm the mind and spirit.

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I was sitting in the kitchen one morning having breakfast and catching up on emails.  Outside the snow was slowing falling to the ground.  It looked so peaceful.

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Every now and then, I would glance outside and just watch the snow falling.

And then something told me I had to go take a walk.  It was like an inner voice telling me to get my butt out of my chair and move.

I hate the cold and don't particularly like being outside in the winter.  And yes, I've lived my whole life in Minnesota, where it can get dreadfully cold, but also balmy warm.

There is that nagging feeling again, telling me to go outside into the snow.

So I bundled up in my snow pants, winter coat, boots, hat, mittens and scarf and headed for the door.

The temperature wasn't too bad and the snow was beautiful!  So off I went into the white stuff.

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It's amazing how calm and peaceful you can become out in nature.  It's almost as if your woes have been lifted and delivers a positive emotion.

I'm not just making that up!  I truly did feel like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

And I'm not the only one who noticed this.  Recent studies have shown that nature walks are great for everyone and help to rejuvenate the brain.  One study by Gregory Bratman from Stanford, showed that those who took a 90 minute walk in nature, had decreased the pattern of thinking that is associated with depression.

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Another study showed that students with moderate to severe depression had a much more positive mood after taking a nature walk.

Maybe psychiatrists should hold their sessions outside instead of in a confined office area.  Just saying...

The University of Michigan conducted a study that showed that people who recently experienced stressful life events, especially saw a mood burst following a nature walk.

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Being out in nature has so many other benefits as well.

It is the best way to get your vitamin D intake, summer or winter.  It also helps to increase your quality of sleep because of its relaxing tendencies.

Nature walks, which the Japanese call "forest bathing", not only help your cardiovascular health and weight, but help reduce stress, improve your mood and self-esteem and boosts creative thinking.

During my nature walk, I felt so calm and confident and I believed I could do anything.

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Nature walking can help you health wise, but it's also an inexpensive, low risk and an accessible form of exercise.  And it doesn't take much to see the change either.  As little as five minutes can make a difference in your mood and senses.

How cool is that?

When I got back home and in my warm kitchen, I had a sense of energy I didn't have before going on my nature walk.  I felt rejuvenated and peaceful and ready to dig into my daily tasks.

So get your butt up and out that door and reward yourself with a nature walk!

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Me on the hill overlooking Monticello, MN.

Resources

Gregoire, Carolyn. Taking a walk in nature could be the best thing you do for your mood all day.  Retrieved from the Huffington Post (2014),  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/23/walk-nature-depression_n_5870134.html

McCurdy, Leyla Erk.  Walking in Nature Prescription for Better Health. Retrieved from Everybody Walk (2014), http://everybodywalk.org/walking-in-nature-prescription-for-better-health/

Mooney, Chris.  New research suggests nature walks are good for your brain.  Retrieved from The Washington Post (2015), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/06/29/fixating-or-brooding-on-things-take-a-walk-in-the-woods-for-real/

Mostafavi, Beata.  Walking of depression and beating stress outdoors? Nature group walks linked to improved mental health.  Retrieved from the uofmhealth.org (2014), http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/201409/walking-depression-and-beating-stress-outdoors-nature-group

Phillips, Anna Lena. A Walk in the Woods. Retrieved from American Scientist (na); http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/a-walk-in-the-woods

Walters, Jennipher.  Why Getting Outside is so Good for You. Retrieved from Spark People (2015), http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1680