The importance of exercising outside

IMG_5561I feel incredibly blessed and lucky every time I go out for a hike or trail run — even if it’s pouring rain and the trail is nothing but miles of mud puddles and slippery roots like it was this past weekend. How lucky am I to live in a place where such pristine and breathtaking trails are only a short drive away? I am well aware that that are millions of humans on the planet who will never get to walk trails like these. That they may never see anything except for concrete towers or suburban slums. I wish I could come pick you all up on a bus and take to you these trails or somewhere just as magical. Everyone should have the opportunity to be in nature. It’s part of our humanity.

I don’t know the type of person I’d be if I didn’t have access to nature and the ability to exercise safely outdoors. It had been about three weeks since I went hiking, and I was already starting to feel the effects of my absence from nature: Despondent. Tired. Sad. Lost. Irritable. Luckily on Friday, Matt’s sister Sara — who resides in the middle-of-no-where Saskatchewan — agreed to join me for a hike out to Mystic Beach, one of my most favourite places on Vancouver Island.

There’s just something about being in the trees and near the ocean that’s so healing for me. And after the stress of these past few weeks, it seemed to be just what I needed to feel balanced again.

Soaking wet and muddy, but happy!

Soaking wet and muddy, but happy!

Feeling at one with the world after being in nature is not all west coast hippy-dip stuff, either. According to this article on The Guardian, being out in nature can improve everything from our happiness and psychological wellbeing to our sense of smell and tolerance to pain and discomfort.

Researchers in Sweden have found joggers who exercise in a natural green setting feel more restored and less anxious, angry, or depressed than people who burn the same amount of calories jogging in a built urban setting.”

Since the article also points out that “regardless of culture people gravitate to images of nature,” here are a few shots from this past weekend.

Mystic Beach looking towards the waterfall

Mystic Beach looking towards the waterfall

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Misty forest walk to the beach

Happiness is a dog at the beach

Happiness is a dog at the beach

Indy doing hot laps

Indy doing hot laps

LOL @ Kai's face! #derp

LOL @ Kai’s face! #derp

Quiet contemplation?

Quiet contemplation?

Do you live near a park or trails? How often do you exercise outside? Do you also feel you need to get outside in nature to feel balanced again?