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Are you looking for motivation to go on a nature walk, wondering what its benefits are?
Get ready to go on this trek and unplug from the world.
Good, you're taking your first steps in the great outdoors.
You look up at the clouds and at the trees and feel the grass and dirt beneath your feet. You listen to birdsong and breathe in fresh air that's been filtered by plants.
And it all works together to clear your mind and lift your spirits for the day ahead.
It's so easy to get caught up in our fast-paced, crazy world. We are constantly checking our phones for messages and updates about what everyone else is doing with their lives.
We are incessantly bombarded with information, news alerts, and statistics telling us what's wrong with every facet of society: from politics to health care, from climate change to crime.
It can be overwhelming!
But when you go on a nature walk, all of that fades away until it's just you and the wind in the trees.
You don't need to be distracted or entertained because there is so much beauty around you!
There are so many other benefits to derive from this walking activity.
Before you go on your own, walk with me on this path to learning about all the advantages of a nature walk.
But first, what do I mean by "nature walking?"
"When we walk in nature, we experience the world through our senses." - Anonymous
What is a Nature Walk?
A nature walk is a stroll through the woods, gardens, or any other place where you can connect with nature. (I prefer to amble on a beach.)
You can embark on a nature walk with a guide, friend, pet, or by yourself.
It's a great way to relax, enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise.
A nature walk is also known as a forest walk, mountain hike or simply a hike. Whatever you call it, it's an excellent way to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and connect with nature.
A nature walk can be short or long — it's up to you! But there are some benefits that come with taking time out of your day to walk in the park or along a trail:
A nature walk is a recreational activity that involves walking into nature and observing the plants, animals, and other aspects of the environment.
Nature walks can take many forms, from organized group hikes with a set agenda to a casual stroll through one's own neighborhood.
Some nature walks focus on learning about specific topics; for example, bird watching, or botany are disciplines that can be studied in nature.
A nature walk may also be used as a term to describe a journey at one's own pace or simply as an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
Nature Walks for Kids
Nature walks are particularly good for kids. They provide a space for children to explore their world in a safe and structured way, while also offering the opportunity for freedom and self-guided discovery.
Nature walks can also help children develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
For example, they can learn how to identify plants and animals, or what the weather is like.
They can also learn how to protect themselves from the elements, like rain or sunburn.
Nature walks are great for kids because they provide a safe environment that encourages children to explore their surroundings.
The physical activity helps burn off energy and keeps them from getting bored during long periods of sitting still at school or in front of the TV.
Walking through nature can stimulate the senses, which helps kids feel more alert afterwards; this is especially true when exploring unfamiliar environments like parks or forests where there's lots going on around them.
Nature walks also give kids an opportunity to spend time with friends and family members who might not otherwise get much chance to socialize outside of school hours - so it's a win-win situation all round!
Suggested Nature Walk Activities
When you go for a walk in nature, there are several fun activities that can make your walk more exciting and enriching.
These activities can also help you better connect to nature, which is the goal of going on a walk in the first place.
Here are 10 fun walking in nature activities:
1. Look at the trees: The trees will be there when you get back, so take your time and really take them in! Look for the oldest tree you can find.
2. Listen to the sounds of nature. Close your eyes and open your ears. Listen carefully to each sound around you. What do you hear? How many distinct sounds can you distinguish? Practice listening to the world around you.
In fact, use ALL your senses when taking in nature.
3. Feel the air: The air has many interesting qualities you might not know about, but you can find out by feeling it as you go for a walk!
4. Sniff the flowers: Flowers have beautiful smells, which you can enjoy by sniffing them during your walk!
5. Find a quiet spot to sit and meditate: Meditation is proven to be beneficial to both physical and mental health.
It can reduce stress levels, improve the immune system, lower blood pressure, slow down an accelerated heart rate, help you focus better by reducing brain chatter—you get the idea.
So, find a pleasant spot where you're not likely to be disturbed by any stray butterflies or picnic-goers and close your eyes for 5-10 minutes.
If it helps to focus your mind on something specific (it definitely does for me), try focusing on breathing in through your nose for four counts and out through your mouth for four to eight counts.
6. Look at clouds: Clouds move. They are always changing. You can watch them change when you go on a walk.
7. With the help of a friend or an online tutorial, you can do yoga while out in nature. Try incorporating sun salutations, downward dog, and warrior poses. This will provide a workout for your body and mind.
Move your body, if you prefer, following Tai chi or simple stretching.
8. Take photos of flowers and plants along the way. Many people find it relaxing to take photos while they're out walking in nature.
When viewed later on, these pictures can remind us about our freeing experience before going back home to the busy world.
9. Bring some art supplies along to paint what you see around you. Use your creativity to capture the surrounding magnificence.
10. Go for a nature scavenger hunt. Make a list of items you want to find, such as a pinecones, acorn caps, and feathers, then see how long you take to collect all the items on your list.
The Spiritual Benefits of Nature
Throughout history, humans have found peace and solace in the natural world. It is in our blood. As a species, we're meant to be surrounded by greenery and wildlife.
And while we may not all live in places that allow us to get out into the wilderness every day, there are still ways for us to connect with nature.
The benefits of walking in nature are numerous and profound; when you're exposed to all that it offers, you can tap into your best self.
Here is a list of spiritual benefits:
1. Walking supports a sense of spiritual connectedness.
Walking in nature can help us feel spiritually connected, because it has the power to remind us of our place in the world.
We are part of something so much bigger than ourselves, and when we're out in nature, it can feel like we're a part of that something.
The sights of nature—the way the light hits a tree, the fresh smell of leaves after a rainstorm, or the sound of birds—can remind us we are just one small part of this big system.
Our worries can shrink down to size when we're confronted with their insignificance by the beauty and purity all around us.
That, in turn, can lead to feelings of serenity, peace, and even bliss.
But walking in nature also allows us to be alone with our thoughts.
It gives us time to think about our lives, who we are and where we're going, who matters to us and what's important—and how all those things relate back to who we are as human beings.
Walking outside gives us space to let go of our day-to-day stressors and instead focus on connecting with ourselves, and our fellow creatures, on a deeper level.
When we walk outside, away from technology and other distractions, we can reconnect with what matters most—ourselves and the natural world around us.
2. A nature walk facilitates mindfulness.
By turning off the part of your brain that's focused on the past and future, and instead focusing on just being present, you can achieve a state of mindfulness where you can enjoy the moment.
This is good for you because it helps you to relax, take your mind off things that are bothering you, and makes you feel happier.
If you've ever gone for a nature stroll, without much else on your mind but the trees, grass, or flowers around you—or perhaps a stream, lake or ocean—you may have already experienced how walking in nature can facilitate mindfulness.
The rhythm and pace of walking, especially in nature, can bring us into the present moment by focusing our awareness on our body, breath, and surroundings.
This can help us notice our thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.
When we're in our normal, everyday surroundings, it's easy to get caught up in all the activities and responsibilities of life.
In contrast, when we look at trees, we can spend a few minutes thinking about how they've grown over many years.
We can observe their textures, shapes, and movements while listening to the wind blowing through their leaves.
This gives us the chance to clear our minds and focus on what's happening right now.
3. Walking in nature helps you t0 feel freer and more open.
Walking in nature can be a great way to escape from the doldrums of daily life. Sometimes, it's easy to get caught up in the daily grind and it's nice to have a little time for yourself to get away from everything.
While nature isn't for everyone, those who enjoy it love that feeling of being able to get outside and just walk around for hours without a goal or destination.
The best part about walking in nature is that you are completely free and can really just go wherever you want.
One benefit of walking in nature is that you can be completely open while doing so.
There may be no one around, so there's no pressure to put on a façade or play along with other people's expectations.
It's liberating to just be yourself when there are no pressures or consequences. This freedom allows you to open up and embrace your true personality rather than trying to be something that you're not.
When surrounded by nature's beauty, we also feel a sense of hopeful expectation.
The air is full of possibility; the variety and colors of nature are all around us. It feels like anything could happen.
We know that we're free to explore and discover new things—we can even make up our own adventures!
We can use nature as a tool for cultivating openness. While walking along a path in the woods or exploring a park by bike, we can stop to observe different details in front of us.
We might notice a flower or a small pond; we might follow the flight of a bird or listen for random noises in the background.
Whenever we stop to look at something unusual or unexpected, we exercise our ability to open up and take notice of new experiences and information.
We expand our awareness beyond imagination.
4. Walking in nature can foster an appreciation of the beauty of creation.
Walking in nature can lead to a deeper appreciation of the beauty of creation and the work of God.
An experience in a natural landscape can stir up a wonderful sense of awe and delight, as it reveals some of the wonders that God has created and placed on this earth.
A walking respite is an excellent way to reignite one's passion for life and rekindle the spark of love for each individual aspect of God's creation, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem.
A trip to the countryside is an especially good opportunity to enjoy simple pleasures, like seeing a sunset over a lake or watching the clouds play hide-and-seek with the mountaintops.
The sights, smells, and sounds of nature are refreshing and provide an escape from an otherwise existence that often seems overwhelming.
The simplicity that is so prevalent in the natural world can help us remember what really matters in life: relationships with family and friends, and connection to a Higher Power.
5. Walking in nature can support feelings of peace and tranquility.
The natural world lends itself to a peaceful state of mind, especially delightful during a respite from an urban environment.
We experience a sense of serenity from the natural elements all around us—the sounds, the smells, the sights, and even the physical feeling of the wind on our face, sunlight on our skin, or water on our feet.
Waiting for the sunrise in a field, we can better lift our spirits; watching a sunset over a lake, we can take time to appreciate what we have; sitting by a waterfall and hearing its soothing roar, we can let go of stress.
Walking in nature is about more than making time to be outside; it's about allowing nature to work upon us and promote those positive sensations that make us feel at ease and whole.
Nature Walking's Mental Benefits
Walking in nature offers many of the same benefits as walking anywhere else, but with a few added bonuses.
Not only does it help relieve stress and tension, it's also been shown to improve your mood and put you in a better frame of mind for coping with life's pressures.
Here are five mental health benefits of walking in nature:
1. It's relaxing.
Walking through the woods or along a beach gives you the opportunity to tune out from the inherent craziness of life and let yourself unwind.
The calming effect begins even before you step foot outside; research has shown that simply looking at pictures of nature can reduce your levels of the stress hormone cortisol
2. It improves your outlook on life.
When you're surrounded by greenery, animals, and clear skies, it's easier to appreciate what we have here on Earth, which can lead to greater happiness and a more positive attitude.
A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology revealed that nature can have a powerful effect on mood, even in those with a low degree of social connectedness.
In an experiment, participants who walked through a lush and green park experienced greater feelings of peace and connectedness than before walking,
(Participants did not need to interact with animals or plants to benefit; nature itself was enough to elevate those feelings.)
The researchers suggest these results could be linked to the fact that we're evolved to handle our emotions better in natural settings.
When we're around nature, we naturally slow down and think less about our worries. We're also more likely to see nature's beauty as something that gives us pleasure, which is a positive thing for our mental state.
As the researchers put it: "Our minds may be hardwired for positive experiences in natural environments."
3. It can help you make better decisions.
Studies have shown that spending time in nature leads you to make more rational decisions based on facts rather than emotions.
Taking a stroll in nature can help you make better decisions, because the physical act of walking shifts your mindset and puts you more in control.
When you are on the move, your brain waves shift from fast-paced beta waves to slower alpha waves—the latter being associated with a relaxed state that promotes creativity, better decision-making and improved overall health.
Walking also causes your body to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that induces pleasure and is associated with goal-driven behavior.
The combination can lead to a more positive outlook on life and the ability to see previously unnoticed connections between things that might otherwise seem unrelated.
4. Nature walking can ignite observation skills and creativity.
Studies have shown that even a short amount of time spent in nature, even from viewing the natural environment through a window or via photographs, can improve creativity and cognitive performance.
Some psychologists have theorized that the reason for this is that we are more connected to nature than to man-made things.
We are a part of nature, and we unconsciously understand the importance of natural surroundings; therefore, we may have more motivation to pay attention to the details in such an environment.
This is why you may hear about people having revelations about themselves or life when they spend time in nature—it's because they are able to see things with new perspectives.
Nature also helps us to slow down, which is an important step toward being able to observe.
In fact, a study at Stanford University showed that people spending time in green space could solve problems and better regulate their emotions than those walking in an urban environment.
When you're out walking in nature, you will notice things you might typically drive right by on your way through your day.
5. Walking in nature can be a source of renewed hope and healing.
Although many people might think that nature is just a place of natural beauty, it can also be an important source of inspiration and healing.
A nature walk can help you become resilient, too.
The physical act of being outside can have positive effects on your mind, body, and spirit after stressful situations.
Studies have shown that spending time in nature, and even listening to the sounds of nature, gives the brain a break from everyday thinking and helps the nervous system to relax.
One of the most important reasons is that it helps us feel more connected with the world around us. It's hard to feel hopeless when we're surrounded by life and beauty.
Nature also brings us peace simply because it doesn't require us to do anything. We don't have to worry about work or chores while we're sitting quietly under a tree or looking at the beautiful landscape around us.
The act of walking itself is also a powerful healing force—it can relieve stress, increase energy, improve mood and promote happiness and satisfaction.
The Physical Benefits of Nature Walking
We all know that taking a walk in the park or any other nature-y setting is calming, but did you know that strolling among the trees can actually improve your physical health?
That's right. There are a number of ways that getting outdoors can benefit your body.
For instance, being outside has been shown to lower blood pressure.
This isn't just because of the calming effects of the surrounding greenery—the sun's rays also help reduce hypertension.
Scientists have found that even small doses of sunlight have positive effects on blood vessels, improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure, promoting heart health.
Walking outside in fresh air also helps increase circulation, which improves muscle and tissue health.
This circulation helps move nutrients through our bodies and improves white blood cell function, which is important for fighting off infection and disease.
Even 15 minutes of nature walking can enhance immune functioning!
Another benefit of walking in nature is that it helps you fall asleep faster, get a deeper sleep, and wake up feeling more refreshed.
These effects are amplified if you walk during the day, since sunlight is the strongest cue to tell your body when it's time to be awake or asleep.
In Japan, there's a practice called "Shinrin-yoku, or "forest bathing," which means soaking up the forest atmosphere and being around trees.
Through this practice, Japanese people have been able to achieve health benefits.
Many of these stems from phytoncides, a chemical compound emitted by trees, which some believe can be absorbed through our lungs and skin.
Other findings suggest that the physical effects of forest bathing come from our senses perceiving and processing the scents of nature—meaning it's more our brains than our bodies that might benefit from the practice.
Some of the most concrete benefits of forest bathing are:
a) Phytoncides in forest air can help kill harmful bacteria and viruses.
b) Slowly breathing in forest air lowers blood pressure.
c) Forest surroundings reduce stress hormone levels.
d) The sounds of nature increase parasympathetic nerve activity, which also helps reduce stress levels.
So, if you want to reap the benefits of forest bathing, go for a walk. Not just any walk—an intentional one where you're taking deep breaths, paying attention to your surroundings, and being present in the moment.
And if you can do it in the woods? All the better! But any natural setting can materialize into health benefits.
Final Words on Nature Walking and Its Benefits
A stroll through the woods, on a well-worn path, can be a relaxing and therapeutic experience. The rhythmic effort of walking can induce a meditative state, be it for reflection or creative ideas.
A nature walk can be as much about the journey as the destination. It can be used as a time to reflect on life and take in nature's beauty.
Nature is an escape from everyday stress and responsibilities, so it's no wonder that many people seek its serenity and comfort.
Walking in nature is a powerful and healing experience. It is an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and your surroundings, to find beauty and peace in the natural world.
Walking in Nature Benefits Your Spirituality
While walking in nature, you can experience a sense of spiritual connection with life around you. You are connected to other living things -- plants, animals and the earth itself. You can feel the harmony of nature, which helps you feel at peace with yourself and with others around you.
Walking in Nature Benefits Your Mental Health
Walking in nature has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety, improve moods and increase self-esteem. It also boosts creativity, improves memory function, reduces depression symptoms and enhances overall mental health.
Walking in nature can even help reduce post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among veterans who have experienced combat-related trauma while serving their country overseas.
Walking in Nature Benefits Your Physical Health
Nature walks are invaluable for healing physically. Going on a walk in a natural environment can help people deal with chronic pain, ease depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, boost the immune system, improve sleep, and more. Walking in nature is also incredibly beneficial for healthy brain function and contributes to improved concentration.
Remember this health prescription:
Walking + Nature = Revitalized health.
May you accrue all the benefits of a nature walk each time you engage in this activity.
"Nature's beauty lies in the intricate details that humanity overlooks. The beauty of nature is in the grandeur and serenity of a sunset, the splendor and grandness of a glacier, the utter wonderment of a rainbow and the peacefulness of a bird's song." - Anonymous
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