Inside Out – Getting Out There: Better Well-Being Through Being Outdoors

by Melissa Nowak, MPowerment Fitness – 

“The world is not in your books and your maps; it is out there.”

For those not familiar with the story of the Hobbit, this quote comes from Gandalf the Wizard advising Bilbo to get outside the comfort of his hobbit hole and explore the world (The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien). We need only to step outside our front doors to experience the greatness of the outdoors.

Recently, my husband and I went on a Euro vacation and we were very active. The sights we saw both on foot and by bike were incredible. Averaging about 20,000 steps per day, we spent the majority of our time in outdoor spaces, from little Spanish villages to busy market squares. While, of course, remembering to wear sunscreen! Yet, we don’t have to go too far here on the Peninsula. There are so many great trails and hidden gems near us from Horth Hill to the Sidney waterfront to hidden beaches in Deep Cove. The world is big and there is so much to explore. And in my opinion, you have to get outside to experience it.

Research has shown that the more time we spend outside, the better it is for our overall well-being. We tend to feel a stronger sense of connection to the world around us when we are in green outdoor spaces.

At least 120 minutes per week is recommended, and it does not have to be vigorous, just an accumulation of overall time spent outside. Outdoor time helps to combat depression and it actually helps us sleep better. Early morning light sets our circadian rhythm up for healthy sleep in the evening. You should aim to get outside at least once a day.

Walking, hiking, biking, running – these are just a few things we can do for outdoor exercise.

Getting outside and being active doesn’t have to be complicated. Exploring different avenues of fitness is one way to improve your mood, get the blood flowing and boost your energy. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask a friend to join along! I have found that doing activities with friends is great for accountability, support and connection. Next time, try going for a bike ride or a walk together, or try something new like stand-up paddle boarding. You both get some exercise and a chance to catch up. Win-win in my books!

As Canadians, we really do suffer from a lack of Vitamin D, especially throughout the winter months. July is here so let’s get outside!

Even something as simple as sitting outside on your patio or garden will boost overall health. I hope to see everyone out and enjoying the outdoors this month!

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