I don’t need to look at a watch or my diary to know when it’s been too long since I set foot in a natural space and reaped the benefits of green exercise. I just have to take a look in the mirror, literally and metaphorically – the person I see is slightly tense, possibly a little stressed, agitated, or grumpy, and does not look or feel like her best self.
The importance of getting out into nature
Today I’m going to share the importance of getting out into nature, and the reasons why we all need to help protect open spaces so that generations to come can enjoy them too.
Often, when I experience these feelings of angst, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to run or walk in nature, and I’ve spent a lot of time in towns or cities, working and traveling.
Nature is healing, and it’s so hard to know this until you’ve experienced it first hand. In fact, green exercise, or exercising in nature had such a profound effect on both myself and Alastair that it’s the reason we started Trail & Kale years ago.
We both felt such a deep desire (and strong responsibility) to spread this important message, and ultimately become positive influences helping to promote, sustainability and the benefits of exercising in nature.
While I crave running or walking in nature and discovering new trails, I’m a little hesitant to get back out there, because I know the first run back after a break is often harder than I would hope.
Then I actually go outside. I feel the dirt under my shoes, breathe fresh forest, mountain, or ocean air, and take myself to a place where all I can see, smell, feel, and hear, is NATURAL. And this is where the benefits of green exercise begin!
Health and wellbeing are deeply intertwined with going back to our roots, and simply being in nature. Going back to a simpler existence temporarily with nature healing us, is a surprisingly effective way to help improve your mental health too.
We have both experienced firsthand, the benefits of running in nature. Getting out into nature has truly helped us grow, both mentally, and physically. It’s hard to put into words just how much confidence trail running has given us, not to mention all the amazing people we have met, and places we have seen because of it.
If possible, I’ll find trails where there are no other people (except for Alastair of course), I’m far from the main road, and there’s more chance I’ll encounter more wild animals.
It doesn’t matter where in the world I am, but if I can get into nature and experience some, if not all of the above, then I feel the stress, tension and less-than-great mood just float away. What’s left is a happy, and fulfilled Helen.
Then I actually go outside. I feel dirt under my shoes, breathe fresh forest, mountain, ocean or country air, and take myself to a place where all I can see, smell, feel and hear, is NATURAL.
Nature’s link to wellbeing
The longer I am out moving amongst the trees, breathing in the fresh air, drinking from (or dipping my toes in) clean mountain streams, the better I feel.
I don’t have to be running, I could be walking in nature, swimming, or just finding a quiet place to sit and be still – the effect is the same, a state of mindfulness is found.
If I spend hours out in nature, just being in the moment, thinking about what I’m doing and where I am, then it’s almost impossible to take away that feel-good feeling for at least the rest of the day – sometimes the rest of the week. In every walk with nature, one receives meaning.
That’s why we love the challenge of a tough long run, and why ultrarunning is seen by so many as an escape from today’s hectic lifestyles. 5+ hours of mindfulness in nature just has that effect.
It’s time to give back, and say thank you to the charities who keep our wild spaces OURS
Our natural world is something that every one of us has in common. We share this world and all of its joy, beauty, and wonder and understand the importance of getting out into nature. We also share the challenges of a changing climate and a troubling outlook if we don’t make serious changes.
We are delighted to be able to help spread the word about The Nature Conservancy’s mission and how we can all take action to help protect the natural world that our lives, livelihood (and wellbeing) depend so greatly upon.
If you donate today you’ll be helping The Nature Conservancy stand up for nature and our planet.
What does The Nature Conservancy do?
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a conservation charity that works to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends. This is obviously a huge remit and challenge, so they prioritize their work by focusing projects on the priorities that science shows are most urgent:
As someone who spent the best part of her youth wanting to be a marine conservationist and has a profound love of animals, I truly believe that the conservation of our planet (and therefore habitats, livelihoods and our long term sustainability) is the number one cause to support. I love that TNC’s projects are making a very tangible difference around the world.
With the support of individual donors, The Nature Conservancy works tirelessly to defend natural resources, protect endangered species, keep our drinking water clean, and preserve nature.
Those who donate today also receive a 1 year of Nature Conservancy Magazine free but the best benefit of all is knowing your gift is making a difference to protect the natural world that brings us so much joy.