Hopefully you’ve been enjoying lots of time outdoors this summer.
Nowadays we spend a whopping 90 per cent of our time indoors and the lack of sunlight and fresh air could be taking its toll on our health.
We worry about sunburns and wildfire smoke, and rightfully so, but concentrations of pollutants such as carbon monoxide, mold and volatile chemical compounds are higher indoors.
Indoor air pollution has been linked to headaches, fatigue, respiratory illnesses and heart disease.
So get outside and breathe deep, except on smoky days. Don’t exert yourself when it’s smoky and wear a mask outside if you have respiratory problems.
Too little exposure to natural light has been associated with increases in cortisol, the stress hormone, and lower levels of melatonin, increasing the risk for depression and poor sleep.
Just walking, cycling and swimming outside moves our muscles, increases our heart rate, clears our heads and doses us with vitamin D. Outdoor activities boosts our general health and well-being.
Natural sunlight and time in nature have been linked to reduced pain, improved vision and enhanced mood and concentration.
Enjoy our long days with safe summer sunshine in the mornings and evenings.
Wear wide brimmed hats and long sleeve lightweight cotton shirts and pants to avoid the searing afternoon sun. Always sit in the shade on hot, sunny afternoons; one great reason to grow trees besides the fact that they absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. I’m always amazed at this balance of plants and animals on our Earth.
Walks in nature with family and friends promotes social interaction, stress reduction, and is a fabulous activity. Outdoor activities are wonderful investments of time that offer big health benefits and they leave you feeling more alert and less fatigued than indoor workouts.
Outdoor activities provide energy boosts equivalent to drinking coffee without the caffeine crash. So get out for that morning walk!
Spending time in nature is also associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and early death. Nature therapy is a potential universal health model.
The ancient Japanese practice of shinrin yoku—forest bathing—is spending time walking in the forest for health and well-being. This healing power of nature is gaining in popularity around the world. Walk along a forest trail, be mindful, use your five senses, and feel the stress melt away. The natural volatile tree essences (that delightful forest smell) can boost our immune systems and help us relax.
Even at night you can enjoy being outside observing our surrounding planets and stars.
This August ends with a blue moon (second full moon in a month), which happens only every couple of years. Plus this blue moon on Aug. 30 is also a supermoon—a full moon that nearly coincides with perigee—the closest that the moon comes to the Earth in its elliptic orbit (its technical name is a perigee syzygy). This results in its slightly larger-than-usual appearance. The combination of these two special full moons, making for a super blue moon, occurs about every 10 years. We need to get serious about preventing light pollution.
We’re wise to return to nature to experience the benefits of health and well-being. After all, we’re a part of nature, not apart from it. Lucky us—as the Trails Capital of B.C. we have made some smart choices.
Check out ribbonsofgreen.ca for trails and enjoy!
Roseanne Van Ee enthusiastically shares her knowledge of the outdoors to help readers experience and enjoy nature. Follow her on Facebook.