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Run, walk, jump or shuffle, take your next workout uphill and enjoy the benefits

Run, walk, jump or shuffle, take your next training uphill and enjoy the benefits

I’ve looked into the body’s respond to hanging out with Mother Nature, and guess what, it loves it — both mentally and physically.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the gym, but it’s nice to switch it up and head outdoors during the summer months. It gives you a new, always changing scenery, plus the uneven terrain makes your muscles move differently to what you may be used to and gets your heart rate and metabolism up. Did I mention the wind? It’s a great force that adds resistance to your training and gets you burning more calories.

Nature also has meditative effects as it takes you out of the hustle-bustle of the city. Studies have shown that it enhances your mood and calms the part of the brain that’s linked to anxiety.

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal of Environmental Research looked at 143 studies with a combined population size of more than 290 million to see if “green space exposure was associated with  health benefits.”

It found statistically significant reductions in blood pressure, salivary cortisol and heart rate and significant decreases in incidence of diabetes, all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

Another multi-study analysis published in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology found a strong link between mental health and outdoors activity. Researchers at the University of Essex in the UK analyzed existing studies and found that exercising in natural environments improved both mood and self-esteem. Do that by a body of water, and it had an even bigger effect.

So, if we translate these studies to what we can all understand, they prove that exercising in nature promotes health and longevity. It’s also associated with greater feelings of revitalization and increased energy and positive mood.

And if you really think about it, how many times have you walked by a beach, or went hiking and felt angry, and anxious afterwards? Not much, right?

Most of us, however, are too busy to even go for a 15-minute walk. As little as that can give your mind a break and allow you to feel relaxed more easily. Yes, there’s a study that proves that, too.

As much as we, humans, have built cities, engineered cars and created surroundings that comfort us, our physical and biological make-up haven’t evolved too much since we lived in caves and spent majority of the day outdoors.

So, next time the sun’s out and you’re ready to get moving, swap the gym to the park, a nearby hill or a track and enjoy the benefits along the way.