While digging into some studies on the benefits of outdoor recreation, I’ve learned some fascinating things.
We all know exercise is good for us, especially if we have a sedentary job.
My location-of-choice for exercise has always been outdoors. No matter the season or activity, I want to be outside. In fact, I’ve been an exerciser all my adult life and have never owned a gym membership.
I thought it was just because I’ve always been a nature lover. That some people, like me, are wired to love the outdoors and get a boost from being there.
But I found out recently that all people — no matter the culture, race or time period they live in — are wired to respond to nature in a way that gives life.
Whether we’re just looking at nature through the windows of our home or car, or even on a screen or in a book…
Or are in a natural setting as we read, talk to others, stroll along on our way to somewhere else…
Or are engaged in recreation in the midst of it — hiking, kayaking, skiing or camping…
Nature benefits us in many ways
Here are some documented benefits shown by study after study from all over the world:
- It gives us a sense of relaxation and calmness.
- It enhances our emotional well-being.
- It produces happiness and enjoyment.
- Depending on the activity, it also produces excitement.
- It helps us forget our problems for a little while and…
- Gives opportunity for reflection.
- It helps us recover from mental fatigue.
- It’s easier for us to have a positive outlook…
- To be more satisfied with life…
- And to cope with stress.
Do you think some of these benefits would help you in your business life as well as your personal life?
I know when I’m out for a walk or run I sometimes get my best ideas for problems I’ve been struggling with — even when they weren’t on my mind at the time.
There’s something about focusing on beauty, grandeur, the steadiness and “ongoingness” of the natural world that can give a sense of peace, rest, wonder, gratitude.
So how can we partner nature and business?
Many of us would pay a lot of money to go to the latest seminar to learn the “secrets” of enjoying all those benefits listed above.
But if the “secrets” aren’t secret…if one of them can be as simple as stepping out the door or even looking out the window, why would we not do it?
For someone like me who needs only the flimsiest of excuses to get outside — this is very good news!
Wherever you work, there are green spaces nearby. Your own yard, the local city park, a county or state park, a tree-lined avenue — take advantage of those areas.
One of the reasons I chose to work from home is the freedom it gives me to set my own schedule. But even when I worked in downtown Minneapolis as an employee, I often used my breaks and lunches to get out for a short walk.
If you’re in a northern climate like I am, winter doesn’t mean you have to be cooped up inside. But if you don’t like the cold, remember, even looking at the outdoors will do you good.
If you have employees, encourage them to do the same. What would be the benefit to your company if your employees were more relaxed, calm, and have a more positive outlook? Do you think they’d be more productive, happy workers?
I’m not sure how it works. But that it works seems to be getting more and more certain.
So, go ahead — go “green.”
See this article as an infographic.
The main resource I used for the above information is: “Beyond Blue to Green: The benefits of contact with nature for mental health and well-being” Published by Beyond Blue, 2010 (Melbourne, Australia). This 160-page study cites many other studies from all over the world. It’s available as a free pdf download.
(The above photo was taken at sunrise one morning over Quiver Lake in northern Minnesota. I often get to see views like that just a few steps from our campsite there.)