What keeps you from walking outside and letting the outdoors embrace you with its magic?
It’s a powerful dose of medicine to be outdoors (I never understand walking on a treadmill looking out the window at a beautiful day on the other side of the glass).
So, walk down a country road, meander on a verdant green path, stroll through a garden, venture into a forest, skim barefoot along the seashore, or appreciate moving around your neighborhood.
Park far away in a parking lot and walk a little further into the grocery store or Target or the mall. Okay, this last suggestion isn’t exactly nature at her finest, but it’s outdoors. And by the time you circle and circle to find a spot that’s close, you could have parked far from anyone who might ding your doors and been inside already, anyway.
I used to live in Salem, Oregon, and if I were in the downtown area around lunchtime, I’d see many state employees out walking through the small parks and pathways along the creeks. Women in skirts would don their walking shoes and be out and about in the fresh air. Even a short urban walk, researchers have found, can boost our attention and mood.
We’ve known this since kindergarten and grade school when time on the playground for recess helped us sludge through the rest of the time required at our desks.
In her book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier and More Creative, Ms. Williams writes that we have an obvious cure for our doldrums: go outside. She found through various research studies, that we’re happiest when we’re outdoors but that so many of us have epidemic dislocation from the outdoors.
So, she asks, if nature acts as a sort of combined antidepressant and smart pill, how do we know the right dose? Is there a daily minimum requirement?
The necessary dose varies from person to person, of course, but many experts agree that there seems to be a dose curve for the benefits of nature. In general, THE MORE TIME YOU SPEND IN NATURE, THE BETTER YOU WILL DO ON MEASURES OF VITALITY, WELLNESS AND RESTORATION.
I’m lucky to live in a tree lined, lush neighborhood with parks and pedestrian friendly sidewalks. I’m a quick 10 minute drive from the White Tank Mountains where my husband and I often head early in the morning for a hike that pushes us aerobically. Most nights, we head out the door about an hour after dinner for a walk and enjoy the evening, the stars, the breeze, and the other neighbors who are doing the same.
Walking is a joiner. It merges the inner and outer world. Go with it.
The lessons and benefits are useful and free.
Walking gives permission. Permission to enjoy nature. Permission to enjoy the movement and health of your body. Permission to move knees and hips that have maybe been too sedentary during the day. Permission to breath deeper. Permission to be grateful. Permission to be part of the world around you. No hall pass necessary.
So walk on down, walk on down, walk on down a country road. It’s another lush, simple way of being alive.