Why exercising in nature is good for your body and your soul.
Whenever I voice concern for friends, family and students alike not spending enough time in nature, I’m frequently met with; “I’m afraid of getting lost,” “How do I get to the trailhead?”, “What even is a trailhead?” and “Is it safe?” These are all valid questions, and all incredibly easy to overcome. Here are three basic ways to channel your inner Cheryl Strayed and get out in nature.
- Recruit a buddy or text your friend. -Chances are two brains are better than one, and tackling the outdoors together will greatly reduce your risk of taking a wrong turn or finding yourself unable to backtrack. If you’re feeling particularly afraid, out-and-back hikes are a great place to start. Once you find a trail, walk out 20 minutes then simply turn around and walk back. If none of your friends are keen to get high on nature’s endorphins, just texting them before you go can bring you peace of mind knowing someone else in town knows what you’re up to. Letting a buddy know where you’re going, and when you’re anticipating being done is a safe way to explore local hiking trails.
- Download, “All Trails.” -This app is incredibly user friendly and all you need to know going in is the name of the open space you want to hike in. You can filter different routes based on length, difficulty and scenic options allowing you to choose from a multitude of different hikes and trails to choose from.
- Consult your local run shop, -Many local outdoor retailers or run shops know our backyard trails like the palm of their hand. The staff members are always more than happy to provide recommendations on where to go, and even the safest time to go. Many even offer group runs or hikes (typically on the weekend), a fantastic way to get to know local trails and make friends doing it.
The stress of school, grades, future internships, careers and life in general can be overwhelming. But what I’ve learned in maintaining my sanity through it all is to carve out time each and every day for myself. Nature is healing in a way that staring at a screen (even on the treadmill or stairmaster) is not. Studies have shown that spending even as little as 20 minutes a day outside can greatly improve stress levels and lead to greater self-confidence and acceptance.
Last semester in the Fall 2017 I attempted and won my very first 100 mile race. If I can the find time to train for an event of that magnitude (mind you it took me 20 hours and 17 minutes to complete) as well as work a part time job and take a full course load, I’m confident you can find some time to get outside and let nature work its magic on you too.
Run Hapi and Healthy,