Our good friends at Nature and Nosh in NZ tell us why they reckon a good ol' bushwalk is the perfect prescription for your physical and mental health.
"Those of us who hike regularly, know intuitively the power that taking a hike or a brisk walk in nature can have on our mood.
It’s not revolutionary that nature has a profound and positive effect on us when you consider our evolution.
In truth, it’s a symbiotic relationship. We need nature as much as it needs us to protect it.
Deep down we crave nature, although many of us might not realise or admit it. We also all know that exercise is good for us.
There are bodies and bodies of research behind the benefits it has on our physical and mental health. Getting your heart rate up and having a sweat out releases these fantastic chemicals called endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in your body. Endorphins also act as analgesics, which means they diminish your perception of pain!
Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress by lowering your cortisol levels. But the benefits of exercise from a gym class or a run around the block are intensely amplified when you add a natural setting to the mix.
Decades of evidence also suggest that simply spending time in nature can lower pulse rates and reduce cortisol levels, helping us to manage stress and anxiety levels.
But there are some surprising benefits you might not have known about.
Boost your immunity More than a healthy dose of sunlight and fresh air, nature can boost our good cells that fight off viruses. As we breathe in the fresh air, airborne chemicals from plants called phytoncides are also entering our system, prompting increases in our white blood cells and stimulating our immune system.
Increase mental clarity Many of us find ourselves attached to our third arm these days. Our mobile phones are rarely left behind. The digital world is so adept at competing for our attention. In a natural setting, our minds are able to switch off to these distractions, giving time for restorative rest, combating mental fatigue.
Get better sleep You are also removing all the new age stimuli that we often expose ourselves to throughout the day (phones, computers, TV's and the like). The result? Better sleep quality.
The happiness effect Getting out into nature decreases what psychologists call 'rumination', which are negative thought patterns that play over and over in our heads such as dwelling on embarrassing or disappointing moments.
Solve the world’s problems Researchers believe that all the extra mental stimulus and information bombardment we are faced with daily overwhelms our brains resulting in reductions in our cognitive resources. Getting out into nature away from these stimuli restores our depleted attention circuits, freeing up more brain power for creativity.
By yourself or with friends? The answer is either/or – and both! Walking or hiking in nature is incredible for our wellbeing. We were born social creatures and as such crave human interaction and connection. Sharing an experience in the great outdoors with friends or colleagues boosts our serotonin levels (another natural happy high!).
Prevention is better than cure So leave the screens and concrete behind and head for the hills. Plan your next team away day in nature. Move away from the traditional four walls of the office. If we all move towards a green prescription as prevention, rather than a cure in our working and personal lives, we’ll be collectively better for it."
Nature & Nosh have created a unique bush boardroom experience. A space under an open canopy for teams to meet with no distractions, in an ancient sanctuary in the North Island of New Zealand. Totally unplugged. Corporate retreats include facilitated wellness sessions, mindful hiking, wild food foraging and more. More info click here.