Last year I joined a gym. I like it because it means I can exercise when it is beastly hot or raining. The added bonus in Brisbane is, I always have air con. I don’t like the view which is over a pretty big four way intersection. This morning while on the treadmill I counted the traffic lanes. There were 17 I could see, and three I knew were around the corner. Above the road looms a huge billboard of a fabric shop and a pole dancing club. I usually zone out to music or watch TV.
I realised this week, how much I miss exercising in nature. Not only the green space but the chance encounters with wildlife and people. I’m lucky enough to live on some wetlands. We have a green belt hugging our street and beyond this is the bay. I’ve spotted koalas, ducked magpies, seen the odd bush turkey, snowy white tawny frog mouth babies, gardens both unruly and manicured, huge spider-web creations, gorgeous fragrant frangipani, and delightful streets with purple jacaranda carpets.
I love the encounters with my neighbour’s dogs. There is one chocolate staffie, his muscles stretched to capacity in his skin who waddles up the street grinning. A golden Labrador named Rolf likes to jump up and lick my face. Another genius move is the man who simultaneously rides his bike while walking two dogs. When I walked out to the bay regularly, I loved watching the red-footed oyster catchers scuttle across the mud. I gazed at the huge plump pelican settling into his lamppost perch watching the fishermen bring in their catch. I used to stop to catch my breath, gazing across the sandbank to look for dolphins.
Five benefits of connecting with nature:
- Fresh clean air oxygenates and purifies the lungs!
- Exercise and movement increases your body’s metabolism.
- Connecting with the earth, people, and animals.
- A technology break, rests the eyes and the mind!
- Nature can invigorate and inspire the soul, a meditation in itself.
As a family, we schedule holidays where we binge on nature, a week at the beach, daily ocean swims and body surfing, runs along the beachfront. Then we come home and don’t do it again for awhile. We go back to juggling work, kids, appointments, haircuts, the dentist, after school activities, parties, and sneak chill out time when we can, usually at home.
Five ways to get a nature hit:
- Google the closest national park, pack water bottles and sunscreen and get out there
- Find and follow Happy Hikers on Facebook for one day or several day trips around Queensland or look for a local hiking group on meetup.com
- Get up early and head to the beach, river, or dam
- Walk the dog or just walk around the neighbourhood
- Get the camping gear out and plan your next trip
Another thing to do regularly is get out onto the grass with bare feet. Scientists are now proving that standing on the earth, sand or rocks barefoot, can rid the body of excess electromagnetism picked up in our environments. There is a whole movement called earthing which explores the benefits of going barefoot for health. Gardening is said to deliver the same health benefits.
Nature is a meditation in itself. Nature forces us to stop. Nature can inspire curiosity and allows the mind to slow down and be available for new thoughts. Nature is rejuvenating, refreshing and unspoilt. No highways, no billboards, just silence.
Schedule in a nature walk today, or tomorrow or on your next holiday. The benefits to your health and well being are immense.
Rachel Wilkinson is a Holistic Therapist, practicing from Step into Health, 1/69 Secam St, Mansfield. She wears shoes to social occasions, kicks them off in the workplace and is barefoot at home, always.