Monday, May 28, 2012

Back to Green Exercise - why is walking in the woods good for you?

The psychological benefit of exercise in the outdoors, particularly in natural environments, is something that I've mentioned before (e.g. here).  I also had a piece in TGO on the subject:  Hills not Pills (the reference material for that is here) It is also something that I mention in the Hillfit book.

Alex Hutchinson has a good article on this in the Globe and Mail - Why is walking in the woods so good for you? which focusses on recent science looking at the some of the reasons for this, highlighting the role of your perception, the call on your attention that is made by your environment:

The ability to direct voluntary attention is crucial in daily life (and for cognitive tasks like remembering random digits), but it’s easily fatigued. Dr. Berman and his colleagues believe that going for a walk in the park gives voluntary attention a break, since your mind has a chance to wander aimlessly and be engaged – involuntarily but gently – by your surroundings.

“In a lot of natural areas, you’re away from loud noises and distractions,” Dr. Berman explains. “It tends to be less crowded so you don’t have to worry about bumping into people, and it also has interesting stimulation to look at, which captures your attention automatically.”
I love that.  Taking a walk offers a real mental break.


Anonymous said...

Hi - are there any woods in your neck of ... ? Because most pictures you post show denuded mountains.
How about a little meditatative practise while you're hiking, with a Pottiputki and some seedlings strapped to the backpack :) ?

Walking Program said...

Walking with nature is the best form of exercise. You get to breathe in fresh air and at the same time enjoy the sites around you.

Unknown said...

Not as pretty where I live so I almost always exercise before dawn, few cars on the road and nobody on the sidewalks. Being outside in the dark is relaxing.

Chris said...

Sorry for the denuded mountains...not many woods in the mountains here in scotland. A few in the glens but higher up things are bare.

Bill said...

Due to a hip issue, some years back I had to give up running. I usually ran on city streets and had been doing so for years. I wasn't sure I could live without the running. Shortly after I discovered hiking in the woods. It wasn't long before I no longer missed "hitting the pavement" and I feel I get more out of a good hike in the woods than I did out of the running. I'm also fortunate to live in an area with several nice parks within a 20 minute drive.

Tony said...

I couldnt agree more, nothing better than getting back to nature