In Minnesota we treasure our warm outdoor days. More studies are confirming what we instinctively know, being outside is healing. I read that we should give up the notion that we go out into nature. We are in nature in every building we inhabit. The things inside did not fall out of the sky from another planet. They all, before being “processed”, came from our first mother – Earth. This concept may help us feel even more protective of our earthly home. So now I say go outside rather than go out into nature. I’m blessed that every place I work I can teach outside in the summer.
Years ago I was fascinated when I read about people who just had the same surgery. The patients who had a hospital room with an outdoor view healed more quickly and were released from the hospital sooner than the windowless patients. A very large 2019 study done in England showed the optimal time to spend in an outdoor nature setting is two hours per week. So just 20 minutes a day is beneficial. Outdoor nature settings decrease our heart rate and blood pressure, decrease levels of cortisol a stress hormone and improve psychological well-being. Mountains and beaches provide additional benefits however city parks work too.
More studies are now finding direct contact with the earth is beneficial. Walking barefoot is sometimes called earthing. Some intitial findings see reduction in issues caused by inflammation after earthing. As a kid I image you went barefoot a lot, it feels good! I don’t use chemicals on my lawn so love to walk barefoot when I pull weeds. Before going barefoot in the park (also a Jane Fonda and Robert Redford movie), check for chemicals. One summer I was teaching an outdoor class and one paticipant had hand irritation from the planks and pushups. I later learned the grass we put our hands on was chemically treated. Also many scientist are studying gardening when bare hands are in contact with dirt. This produces the same benefits as earthing.
When I worked for a website I would have 60+ hour work weeks. At lunch, if I didn’t have three meetings scheduled, or a yoga class, I would eat outside. This brief time spent in a park melted away some of the stress. I also had outdoor walking meetings with my team. We often think of walking, biking or running outside. In my area there are also many outdoor concerts, plays, hikes, fitness classes, yoga, tennis courts, pickleball courts, street dances (I just bought some new outdoor dance shoes), art fairs, farmers markets, flea markets, movies, restaurant patios and so many community celebrations. Parks and Nature centers often have free programs for children and adults. I just bought an SUV tent and hope to do some forest camping soon. How are you going to spend your outdoor time? Let me know.