I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. As a child, I played outside in the Mojave Desert most of the day, and my family enjoyed traveling to the nearby Hualapai Mountains to get out of the summer heat, as well taking camping trips to surrounding areas. As an adult I have enjoyed going on runs outside, as well taking my own children on camping trips now and then.
It hasn’t been until recently that I have really started enjoying walks outdoors on a regular basis. Some days they are slower walks, other days they are brisk. I usually always take our two dogs with me for company, and sometimes listen to a podcast as well. These walks have ranged from 20 minutes to an hour long at times, and are proving to be extremely beneficial, not only for my physical health, but also as a time for me to enjoy my natural surroundings and do some thinking.
If you aren’t already enjoying the many benefits that walking outdoors provides, here are a few reasons why you should consider adding it to your regular routine.
-Time to meditate. If you like having quiet time to think by your self, walking is a perfect time for stillness and reflection.
-Listen to a podcast or audio book. I usually listen to several different podcasts on a couple of my weekly walks. It’s a great time to catch up on Ted talks, an audio book or podcasts you listen to.
-Physical exercise. This benefit probably goes without saying, but walking is one of the best forms of exercise for the human body as it is low impact, but provides enough movement to stimulate your muscles. It can also be done at different paces providing aerobic and non-aerobic exercise.
-Fresh air. Getting outside and breathing in fresh, clean air can improve your serotonin levels, making you feel happier. Fresh air energizes and refreshes you.
-Increased Vitamin D. Your body absorbs Vitamin D through the UVB rays of sunlight. Most people don’t get enough sunlight and need to take Vitamin D supplements. Walking outside will increase the amount of natural Vitamin D you are getting, which leads to stronger bones and better calcium absorption.
-Explore natural landscape and native growth. How many of us know what types of plants grow naturally in our neighborhood? What about in the unlandscaped walking paths around the parks? Walking outside gives you a chance to explore these plants and trees and become familiar with what grows in your ‘neck of the woods.’
-Opportunity to meet others. If you incorporate a regular walk into your routine, you’ll soon notice others who are out and about at the same time. Perhaps neighbors who enjoy walking as well, mothers pushing their babies in stroller, or people working in the yard or garage. Regular walks will give you a chance to smile and wave, possibly making new friends or at least becoming familiar with those around you.
-Increased clarity and focus for rest of day. One of the great benefits of walking outdoors is that you naturally feel energized and focused when you return to your other daily activities and commitments. Your motivation increases allowing you to accomplish your other tasks with ease.
-Increased optimism. It’s no surprise that walking on a regular basis boosts positivity in those who make it a habit. Regular exercise boosts serotonin levels, which in turn make us happier and more optimistic.
If you haven’t yet tried taking walks outdoors on a regular basis, I highly recommend that you think about it. Even just starting out walking five to ten minutes at a time will give you many of the benefits listed above. Choose a time during the day, it could be in the morning, on your break at work or in the evenings after dinner and commit to walking outdoors for just a few minutes. You’ll quickly find that the physical and mental benefits, as well as the pure enjoyment of it make it worth the effort.