The other day I wrote about how there are so many strategies, teachings, practices geared toward helping us access those feel-good emotions which improve our health, boost our energy, and help us live more loving, connected lives. Here’s another way of doing all that.
Sitting on a park bench, or by a river, or any place that gives you a view of Mother Nature flaunting her finest gives you more energy than you can get from a cup of coffee.
Let’s be clear: I’m not substituting my morning cuppa cafe’ with a walk in the park. And I’m not overstating it when I say that my first sip of that first cup of coffee in the quiet of the morning is one of the greatest pleasures in my day. Shallow perhaps. But so not kidding here.
Still, I get what the Big Wigs are talking about when they pull in the Nature thing. When I’m outside something happens, especially when I’m sitting near the shore. There, with those big noisy Pacific Ocean waves rolling in it’s tough not to feel connected to a greater power. It’s hard not to feel grateful. When I’m outside at the ocean or anywhere, really, I feel more connected, more alive. And that’s just what researchers from the University of Rochester discovered in a group of 537 study participants.
Researchers exposed the study participants to a variety of active and sedentary situations both indoors and outdoors and found the participants’ vitality increased by just being outside. They didn’t even have to move to feel better. Get that? You don’t have to swim, hike, walk, garden, bike, to feel better. (Though exercise in its own right is another tip from the feel-good files.)You just have to be outside.
After just 20 minutes in the open air, researchers noted a dramatic increase in vitality among participants. And when indoors, even imagining themselves outside left study participants feeling more energetic, according to the report published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
Since we tend to stay indoors close to our computers, televisions and refrigerators, it’s important to make a mental note to get up and go out. Every day. Put it on your To-Do List. Eat your lunch on a park bench. Sit under a tree. Watch the clouds. Or, for those of us living in Oregon, take a stroll in the rain. Just go outside for 20 minutes.
We are animals, natural beings, so it’s no surprise to learn that we physically need Nature. We crave it. We feel better when we’re in it.
“Nature is something within which we flourish,” says University of Rochester researcher and psychologist Richard Ryan. “So having it be more a part of our lives is critical, especially when we live and work in built environments.
Hm. Wonder if I could get a double hit of vitality if I head outside with my cup of coffee?
I’ll let you know.
In the meantime, let me know, what is your favorite outdoor activity? And,why do you like it?