Being in nature can affect your bioelectricity and biochemistry boosting your state of body and mind
Hikes heal. When I went on a beach hike recently, I was processing a loss of someone really close to my heart. It was a difficult emotional time amidst painful mental battles which I have never encountered before.
Moments of confusion, anger, anxiety, pain and tears kept on going around and around as if it was a never-ending cycle. Then something shifted. Being outdoors, walking barefoot in the sand, soaking up the rays of sunshine and breathing deeply as the waves washed up on my feet did something to my physiology and nervous system that was profound.
The mental and emotional chaos got quieter and the pain started to turn into ease. It wasn’t time that did the healing, it was nature. My experience was far from special. As humans, we can all benefit from going outdoors whether it’s a walk in the park, on the beach or a hike in the mountains.
A growing number of studies have shown that spending time in nature improves both our physical and mental health. Our lives today are more stressful than ever before in human history. Our mental health battles with burnouts, anxiety, depression and self-doubt, while our body fights poor nutrition, lack of sun exposure, lack of movement and poor posture. Not to mention, our increased exposure to electromagnetic frequencies, such as 5G, and air pollution.
The energy we receive in our modern life is not what our physiology has evolved into thriving in thousands of years ago. Since our health craves the grounding energy from the earth, you may notice the effects of grounding and outdoors activity nearly immediately.
Improved emotional and mental health
Being outdoors boosts serotonin production which is associated with enhanced mood. Breathing in the fresh air and negative ion-rich oxygen has a calming effect on the mind. It increases alpha brainwaves and activates the parasympathetic part of the nervous system. Thus, switching the body from being in fight-or-flight, stressed state, into the rest-and-digest and calm state. A study that looked at how participants who walked in a city felt compared to those on a nature walk showed significant benefits, such as decreased anxiety and rumination along with cognitive benefits and increased working memory performance.
Improved muscular and cardiovascular health
Going on a hike is a great way to reach those step count goals. You could, however, do that on a treadmill, too, so why hike instead? Whether on a beach or nature trail, the uneven terrain and deep-sand beaches put the body through more intense work, bumping up the heart rate, increasing metabolism; hence burning more calories and strengthening the muscles and the lungs. If you’re more advanced, you can also level up to jogging instead of walking.
Boosts Vitamin D production
Seven out of 10 Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, yet it’s one of the most important micronutrients for the human body. Its deficiency has been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain, increased rates of bone loss and other health conditions. Supplementing and foods are an option to increase those levels, but the ultimate way to soak up a sufficient amount of it is really to spend time outdoors. Remember, sunscreens block your skin from absorbing the UV from sunlight and converting the UVB rays into Vitamin D, so depending on your skin type, apply it 15 minutes to an hour after being outside.
Most of us spend the majority of our day under artificial lights, looking at computer screens or smart devices, which, especially toward the end of the day, decrease the body’s melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for helping you fall asleep. Spending time in natural light helps reset the body’s circadian clock. It’s essential for good quality sleep. Have you ever noticed getting a good night’s rest after spending a day on the beach? Natural sunlight exposure, fresh air and your direct connection to the earth, also known as grounding, create an overall biological boost, helping your body to work optimally, so you can sleep deeply and wake up rested and recharged.