Trekking, hiking, or simply taking a scroll is something that many of us have done at least once in our life. However, this is something we don’t give much thought to. This simple act of walking to the nearest convenience store or strolling in the park every afternoon is important in many ways. But how exactly, you ask? How is something as mundane as this have any significance at all? Science has an answer for you.
During the 18th century, after the warfare stopped and agriculture, transportation, and any sign of normalcy have restarted in Europe, people (specifically in the upper classes) started to walk and travel more for leisure. However, it was only until the last half of this century when walking on beautiful gardens, landscapes, riversides, etc., gained the general opinion of a posh activity as members of the upper-middle class popularized it.
Can you imagine that? Something as mundane as walking turned into a bandwagon everyone wanted to be on just because the rich were doing it. Well, we have the Kardashians to help us illustrate the double standards of boring-things-turned-popular if we were to put a side-by-side comparison for the 21st century.
Nevertheless, walks in nature deserve to be popular, especially with all the perks the outdoor activity carries. Whether it’s to clear your mind of worry or to enjoy a scenic view, nature walks are the answer. Here’s why you should get on the bandwagon even after a couple of centuries later.
Your Mind in Nature
You probably have an inkling of how walking positively affects your brain, especially if the activity is done in nature. Other than there’s more to it that’s worth knowing about, enjoy your next stroll knowing that this is what it’s doing for your mental health.
Keeping yourself active and moving exercises your brain, especially when the physical activity is done outdoors surrounded by multiple stimuli. This is why walking is one of the optimal exercises since it covers exercise for both the body and mind. Aside from that, as shown in one experiment, a simple walk in nature lowers cortisol levels and improved mood better than watching nature scenes or doing physical exercises alone. The phenomenon observed in the study is called the Stress Reduction Theory or SRT. This phenomenon facilitates your recovery from the after-effects of stress with the help of nature.
Nature walks do more than exercise your brain because it has positive outcomes for mental health too. In their analysis of 12 studies, Kotera and colleagues found that walks in nature may reduce the state of anxiety of a person. This is a great tip to know. The next time you feel nervous or anxious, take a brief walk outside.
Walks are beneficial for every person, no matter what age. Considering the mobility issues and proneness to falls in older adults, walking could be the optimal physical activity for them. Results gathered by researchers from the 2017 California Health and Interview Survey suggested that moderate to strenuous leisure walking can improve the mental health and health perceptions of older adults.
Group Walks in Nature
Exercise is always more fun with company. But did you know that walking with your friends or family affects your well-being? A group walk in a natural environment was actually found to significantly improve one’s emotions and self-esteem. Similarly, it’s associated with a decrease in perceived stress, depression, negative mood, and an increase in a positive mood and mental well-being, a study finds. This group activity in nature has a wide range of health benefits too. Some of these are improved cardiovascular health, enhanced immune system, weight loss, among others.
What’s a better way to spend time than with people you care about? Although walking can be a form of exercise, it’s a better experience for people to share it with you. A group of research studies showed evidence that suggests that people who partake in this activity regularly are likely to experience connections with other people, nature and grow a sense of freedom.
To make the most of nature you’re taking in, you could set a photo walk on the weekend with friends or family. It’s a great way to take in the scenery while keeping a record of the memories. Worry about storage options later and take as many pictures as you like!
No one can deny how restorative mentally and emotionally walking is. It’s important to get to know its other benefits so the next time you plan for a walk, you can be more intentional and productive about it. Who would’ve thought that doing less than an hour’s worth of walking every day could do wonders to your overall well-being, especially with the right company?