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The Nature of Exercise: Why working out in nature is so good for you.

Updated: Aug 9, 2021

The biophilia hypothesis; humans’ innate tendency to seek connections with nature.

Ever feel completely in awe, energised and yet at peace when you’re breathing in nature?

Nature can have a profound effect on our brains and mental health research called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety and depression. Exposure to nature nourishes our sense of well-being.

Reducing Stress - Happy Hormones

Combine an endorphins hit from exercise with a dose of nature and you're onto a winner. Exercise has the ability to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress. It reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol whilst stimulating the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators. Being in green space is proven to lower blood pressure and reduce nervous system arousal, as well as enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, and improve mood.

Frequent swimming in cold water has also been thought to activate receptors under the skin releasing hormones like endorphins, adrenaline and cortisol, increasing feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine as well as promoting immunity.

Improving mental health

When we step into nature or go near the ocean, “a different brain network activates. That brain network is available for a completely different kind of quality of thought which is much more introspective and self-referential.”

Every second breath we take is using oxygen produced by oceans and a third of the human cause of carbon dioxide is absorbed by our oceans. When we're near the ocean, the boost to our oxygen supplies is likely to make us feel more energised. Negative ions in the ocean air can help calm the brain, with a pronounced anti-depressant effect and can alleviate symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

Challenges the body

Working out in nature can offer a more intensive workout. No gym machine can truly replicate the terrain of outdoors, navigating uncertain terrain forces the body to constantly adjust to the surroundings working all aspects of the body. Often it requires more concentration and balance, those added wobbles will help you build up all-important stabilising leg muscles and work the core.

Today our busy lifestyles and technological advancements and more time spent indoors, in cars, behind screens, has disconnected us from nature. Getting out, switching off, taking in the shapes and smells around us, can stimulate the brain in different ways which allows our minds to reset.

Go workout in nature, breathe it in and sweat it out.

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