COVID-19 And Nature Walks
COVID-19 And Nature Walks
Some take walks to relax! Others sleep! Nature walks, are an opportunity to stretch both muscle and mind. They enable us connect with the outside world by stimulating our senses. But, that is not the full story. Research shows that being connected to nature increases the effectiveness of our immune system. Among the Baganda of Uganda it is called a “nature birth” (ekyogero). In Japan it is called “forest bathing” (shinrin-yoku).
But are there really any benefits to mind and body?
In a study conducted by the University of Michigan, researchers found that walking in the countryside had some amazing effects on people’s mood and health.
In our case there 5 benefits:
1. Getting to walk together as a team and share common conversations on common topics such as how roads, buildings and other built structures are mushrooming in a short time. So, it triggers conversations about a common issue.
2. We are able to move out from the house where due to COVID-19 we do not get out of as frequently. So, in going out we are able to find out what has changed in our immediate community.
3. We get to find out whether our popular grocer is still in place and we pass by to buy a cookie or chewing gum. This continues to build rapport with the community leaders who live near-by to us.
4. We share common destinations and make plans that are share commonly such as making stops at given landmarks to see what is new or compare the information we have had about a given place. So, it enables us validate or calibrate the information we know about our vicinity. This becomes part of our idea of tranquility, peace, memories and the things we treasure.
5. Walking is good for one’s health. The muscles are stretched and the heart is given exercise. That way we keep healthy and burn unwanted fat.
Other sources have the following benefits:
1. It is cheaper than a gym!
The first benefit of walking in the countryside, or anywhere else for that matter, is that it doesn’t cost you a penny! Some people have even dropped their gym membership in favour of walking, and just 150 minutes of walking every week will reduce stress and decrease the risk of heart disease.
2. It boosts your brain power
The University of Michigan researchers proved that a one hour stroll in nature will boost brain performance by up to one fifth. They also found that the same amount of walking through city streets has no impact on brain performance whatsoever.
3. Walking in nature can help protect you against diabetes
A British study found that, people who take a brisk walk on a regular basis improved their insulin sensitivity. This provides a significant reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
4. It improves your memory
In the University of Michigan study, participants were split into two groups: one group went on a gentle stroll in the country, while the other group took a walk in a city. When the two groups returned it was found that the nature route group had experienced a 20% improvement in their short term memory.
5. It can prevent dementia
It has also been found that older people who keep up the walking habit have up to a 40% reduced risk of developing dementia. Walking six miles, or more, every week, appears to help stop brain shrinkage and stop the loss of memory.
6. Walking in nature boosts your energy levels
A brisk walk in the fresh air will also give you more energy. Get away from the smoke and the toxins of the city, and the exercise of walking will make the clean, fresh air of the countryside flow through your bloodstream and reawaken your brain.
7. It reduces stress and calms the nerves
A walk in nature is also the perfect way to unwind and reduce stress. Nature demands very little of you and getting closer to it has an incredibly positive effect on your mood. Even a walk around your local park will help you reconnect with nature and calm your nerves.
8. Walking in nature cheers you up!
The combination of exercise, fresh air and the peace and quiet of the natural world will also lift your spirits. In some cases, a walk in nature has even been found to be more effective than anti-depressants for people suffering mild, to moderate, depression.
9. It boosts the levels of Vitamin D in your body
Most of us work indoors and stay indoors when we get home too and that can cause a Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D plays a big role in keeping us healthy and we don’t get enough of it from food alone. Getting out to the natural sunlight in the best way to produce Vitamin D, and a walk in the open air is the best way to do that.
10. Taking a walk in nature is as good as meditation
A British study found that a walking in wide open green spaces puts the brain into a state that is very close to that which is achieved through meditation. People who walk or jog regularly have been found to be up to 50% happier, than those who get all their exercise in a gym.
11. Calming Effect
Natural elements like plants, trees, water and sunlight have been said to absorb negative energy. Perhaps we feel calmer around them simply because they are part of the living world and so we feel connected to them, and yet they do not make any demands on us except to appreciate them. Take a walk in a quiet forest or a country path, notice the beauty all around you and feel the tension and stress evaporate.
12. It feels good to take nature walks
Walking provides a significant benefit because it helps to relieve stress. Brisk walking boosts endorphins, the feel-good hormones that improve your mood and lower stress and mild depression. Walking gives you more energy, which also improves your positive feelings.
According to Dr. Mehmet Oz a health talk show host and an American cardiologist, “a daily walk can't do much for your health? Actually, walking has numerous benefits, whether you're trying to lose weight, boost your energy levels and mood, or clear your mind. Just 30 minutes of walking a day can put you on a path to reduce your risk for stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and forms of arthritis. Surrounding yourself with natural beauty can actually increase immune function. In a Japanese study, 280 people undertook a popular practice called “forest bathing” (shinrin-yoku), which involves merely a short, leisurely visit to a forest. Compared to controls, these forest-goers had lower levels of cortisol, lower pulse rates, and lower blood pressure. Consider taking a trip to a state park, going for a hike, visiting a botanical garden, or simply going for a nice leisurely stroll on a very lush street in your own neighborhood.
According to author Deborah Ward is the author of Sense and Sensitivity “our sensitive nervous systems can easily become irritated or disturbed by the bombardment of sights, sounds, smells and speed of modern life, especially a life lived in a city. Fortunately, nature can give us a break from that stress.”
You may do it to relax or to engage in exercise that eventually makes you feel healthier. Well go on, take the walk. But, do not forget to wear masks!