One of the most important reasons and a very cool word I recently learned is biophilia. The biophilia hypothesis argues that humans have an innate desire to surround ourselves with all that is living, including plants and animals and everything in between; that we are attracted to all life. While no “nature” gene has been discovered, the urge to be outdoors is basically a genetic hand-me-down from our ancestors who lived with the land and all its glory. (And in fact, many peoples around the world still do live among nature in a more complete way.) So next time you look up from your smart phone to watch the sunset and intake a quick breath, or go for a walk during the magic hour and simply smile to yourself, know in your soul that that feelgoodery is connected to something greater than you.
Read more on biophilia here
We simply need to understand that it’s OK if you don't go for that 3-hour hike on a strenuous trail...or have any inclination to run that 10K. Head to your local park instead. Start an herb garden. Step outside and feel the sunshine warm your face. Every little bit counts, and simply being outside can be enough.
Read more on the concept of forest bathing here
I know we workout for an hour together, and there may be some sweat molecules and increased breath and burn involved - it is Pilates after all. 😁 It’s not that we need to give up on our indoor exercise. That’s really important too. I’m not going to stop rolling around on the floor and hanging on the Cadillac, believe you me! But I do bike and swim at least twice a week, and take walks as much as I can. Why? ‘Cause it’s easier! Yup. Research shows that doing the same exercise outdoors, like walking, actually makes us feel like we’re 1) enjoying it more and 2) doing less. Yup. You read that correctly. When we’re outdoors and scenery is passing by, and we’re aware of crossing the street, and maybe we have a beloved pet or best friend in tow, we actually walk faster and can go longer than, say, on a treadmill in a stuffy gym, but we perceive that it’s more pleasurable and easier. (I didn’t need research to tell me that when I joined 24 Hour Fitness this winter during all the winter rain instead of riding my bike outside that I couldn’t keep my eyes off the clock! Whew. 30 minutes felt like an eternity.)
So yes. Keep your Pilates and yoga classes. Go for those long, sweaty hikes and runs. But then simply get outside to benefit your body and your psyche. We get to have it all when we exercise in the blue and the green.
Francesca and me jumping for joy to be in Ojai.
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i'm stephanie. my last names mean "hedgehog" in Czech and "pretty calf" in French. i have an MA from Oxford in English lit, and a MFA from Riverside in experimental choreography. i like to write. i have lots of thoughts on the body. and i want to help you understand your own better. oh, i'm also plant-based and love to bake with vegan ingredients.