Connecting  to Nature

How much time do you spend outside? This may seem a strange question in the middle of December but it is a good question. For many of us, being outside is crucial to us but many others of you think it a chore to go from your car to your house or your car to your office. I want to challenge those of you who think outside is for animals and not for people and inspire those of us who know the serenity of being outside.

I have loved REI’s campaign to Opt Outside on Black Friday but want to encourage you to get outside even in December. I am fortunate to live in the South, where today it is in the 50s and most December days are in the 60s but for those of you already experiencing snow, this may be a challenge. Take a walk or bike ride outside. Whether you stroll around your neighborhood to check out the Christmas lights or get serious on a greenway or park, get out there. Fresh air and nature are essential to well-being in warm weather and in cold. As we give ourselves the opportunity to disconnect from social media and just be, we are energized and refreshed.

A little deep breathing has been shown to clear the lungs, refresh the body and increase the production of serotonin and epinephrine, which promote peace and calm. The exposure to cool or cold conditions increase blood flow to your extremities promoting circulation and increasing overall health. Even if your walk does not increase to an aerobic pace, just increased movement is beneficial but the cool weather allows you to achieve aerobic benefit with less effort. Mental and emotional health is improved when you exercise but even more so if you exercise outside.

This time of year brings lots of treats and eating more calories than you typically consume so the extra exercise will benefit you and avoid weight gain. So bundle up and get out there! Layer clothing, wear a hat or scarf and gloves. Fashionable leggings make great transition clothing from the office to the greenway or park. You will be glad you did! Mentally, emotionally and physically you will be doing good for yourself and the views are still amazing with wildlife and beautiful neighborhoods or countryside.

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