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Boost Your Mood and Mind with Outdoor Exercise

Updated: Jan 18

Do you love spending time in nature? Do you enjoy walking, hiking, cycling, or gardening? If so, you are not only doing something good for your body, but also for your mind. Research has shown that exercising in nature can have a positive impact on your mental health, mood, and well-being. But how exactly does nature affect your brain and mind? And how can you incorporate more nature into your daily life, especially if you follow the Cottagecore lifestyle? In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of exercising in nature for your brain health and happiness, and share some tips and ideas on how to make the most of it.

outdoor boots on a rock

The Mental Health Benefits of Being in Nature - Nature as a Gym for the Mind

In a world dominated by concrete and screens, it's easy to forget the profound impact nature has on our well-being. But stepping away from the hustle and bustle and immersing ourselves in the sights, sounds, and scents of the natural world can be a powerful antidote to the stresses of modern life.

Think of the forest as your open-air cathedral, the hills as your personal treadmill, and the babbling brook as your meditative soundtrack. Exercising in nature isn't just about sculpting your physique; it's about rewilding your mind. Science backs this up, revealing a treasure trove of brain-boosting benefits:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety: Nature's sights and sounds have a calming effect, lowering cortisol levels and promoting the release of mood-boosting endorphins. Imagine swapping gym-induced stress for the tranquility of a sun-dappled forest path. Spending 20 minutes in nature can significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that participants who spent time in nature had a 21.3% decrease in cortisol levels compared to those who simply rested indoors

  • Enhanced creativity and focus: Immersing yourself in nature's sights, smells, and textures stimulates the prefrontal cortex, the brain's creativity hub. Picture yourself practicing yoga beside a gurgling stream, letting the rhythm of the water wash away mental clutter.

  • Sharpened cognitive function: Studies show that outdoor exercise improves memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. Think of a hike as a brainpower booster, each step through the wilderness carving new neural pathways.

  • Increased motivation and energy: Nature's vibrant energy is contagious! Exercising outdoors can leave you feeling revitalized and ready to tackle anything, ditching the sluggishness of the indoor gym.

Cottagecore Workouts for the Wild Soul ❤️

Now, let's translate these benefits into tangible practices that align with the Cottagecore spirit:

  • Sunrise walks: Greet the day with a barefoot stroll through dewy grass, feeling the earth connect with your soul.

  • Wild yoga: Unroll your mat beside a lake, mirroring the graceful movements of birds and swaying branches.

  • Gardening as exercise: Tend to your vegetable patch, feeling the satisfaction of nurturing life while getting your heart rate up.

  • Creative nature journaling: Combine exercise with mindful reflection by sketching, writing, or painting amidst the beauty of nature.

How to Incorporate Nature into Your Exercise Routine in the city

It can be challenging to find natural spaces in urban areas, where buildings, traffic, and pollution often dominate the landscape. Fortunately, there are some ways to overcome this obstacle and enjoy the green exercise in the city. Here are some tips and ideas on how to incorporate nature into your exercise routine in the city:

Look for local parks, gardens, or trails that offer some greenery and fresh air. You can use online maps or apps to find the nearest or most convenient ones for you. You can also explore new areas of your city that you may not be familiar with, and discover hidden gems of nature. You can use these natural spaces for walking, jogging, cycling, or any other exercise that you enjoy.

Try to find the best time of the day to exercise in nature, when the air quality is better and the crowds are smaller. This may vary depending on the season, the weather, and the location, but generally, early morning or evening are good options. Avoid exercising in nature during peak hours, when the traffic and noise levels are higher and the natural environment is less pleasant.

Take advantage of the seasonal changes and the variety of nature in the city. You can enjoy the different colors, smells, and sounds of nature throughout the year, and appreciate the beauty and diversity of the natural world. You can also try different activities that suit the season, such as skating on a frozen pond in winter, or swimming in an outdoor pool in summer.

Bring some nature with you when you exercise in the city. You can wear clothes or accessories that have natural patterns or colors, such as floral prints or green shades. You can also listen to music or sounds that evoke nature, such as birdsong, rain, or waves. You can also carry a plant, a flower, or a stone that reminds you of nature, and use it as a focal point or a source of inspiration.

Join a group or find a workout buddy who shares your interest in exercising in nature in the city. You can meet new people, make friends, and have fun while exercising in nature. You can also motivate and support each other, and share your experiences and tips. You can look for local groups or events that organize outdoor activities, such as hiking clubs, running groups, or yoga classes.

How Much Exercising in Nature Do You Need?

There is no definitive answer to how much exercising in nature you need, as it may depend on your personal preferences, goals, and circumstances. However, some general guidelines are:

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, as recommended by the World Health Organization. This can be divided into shorter sessions of at least 10 minutes each. For example, you can do 30 minutes of brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or hiking in nature five times a week.

Try to exercise in nature at least once a week, or more if possible. Research has shown that even a single session of green exercise can have significant benefits for your brain and mood.

Choose a natural setting that you enjoy and feel comfortable in. It can be a local park, a nearby forest, a community garden, or a scenic trail. The more diverse and beautiful the environment, the better.

Pay attention to your surroundings and engage your senses. Notice the colors, shapes, textures, sounds, smells, and feelings of nature. You can also practice mindfulness, gratitude, or meditation while exercising in nature, to enhance your awareness and appreciation.

Beyond the Brain

The benefits of exercising in nature extend far beyond your mental well-being. You'll also experience:

  • Improved physical health: Fresh air, sunshine, and uneven terrain work wonders for your cardiovascular system and muscle tone.

  • Deeper connection with nature: Immersing yourself in the outdoors fosters a sense of belonging and respect for the planet.

  • Enhanced mood and overall well-being: Nature has a way of grounding us, reminding us of the simple joys and interconnectedness of life.

So, lace up your boots, breathe in the fresh air, and let the wild become your gym. Remember, you are not just exercising; you are reconnecting with your primal essence, nurturing your brain, and weaving yourself into the vibrant tapestry of nature.

Let's trade the treadmill for the trail, the neon lights for fireflies, and the concrete jungle for the whispering woods.

Our minds, bodies, and spirits will thank us for it!❤️

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