Recently I ran across an article written by a friend of mine Dr. John MacPhee. It discusses the benefits of getting out into nature. This resonated with me because of my recent 5 day solo hiking trips to Killarney Provincial Park and Algonquin Provincial Park. This experience was amazing in so many ways.
At the end of this article you can watch my Algonquin hike on YouTube if anyone is interested.
I hope you enjoy the article.
Vitamin N: Special Report
I love my Sundays… It’s a free day for me, a day to not think or do anything relating to business. If you know me, then you’ll know that this is a super hard thing for me to do in practice…I’m super passionate and love what I do, so it's often hard to turn off.
One of my Sunday rituals is to get out into nature, regardless of the weather. I usually head to Gatineau Park to do a trail run, hike, snowshoe or simply head out cross-country and see what obstacles I can find.
There’s the physical benefits of getting active outdoors that simply can’t be reproduced in a gym…But I would argue (as have many scientists) that the benefits go far beyond meeting your various movement requirements.
For me it’s a time to reflect and connect with my deeper self. I definitely experience a sort-of meditative state...The effect on my psychology and mental-emotional state dwarfs the physical benefits and has made my ’nature time’ one of the easiest rituals for me to maintain.
Think back to the last time you spent a couple of hours immersed in nature. I bet you felt calm, exhilarated, fortified, restored, still...
Thankfully there is much more than anecdotal evidence to support this - researchers from a variety of biological sciences have identified powerful effects resulting from spending time in nature:
- Improved memory performance and attention spans
- Boost in creativity
- Reduction in ADD/ADHD symptoms
- Reduction in blood pressure
- Reduction in serum (blood) stress hormones
- Boosted cellular immunity
- Anti-cancer protection
The evidence has built to such an extent that doctors are now beginning to prescribe a healthy dose of ‘vitamin N’ to their recommendations for a variety of conditions.
While I don’t agree with the concept of nature as a therapy or treatment for any particular condition, I like the analogy of nature as an essential requirement, much like true essential nutrients.
Why Getting Outside This Winter Isn’t Important…It’s Essential.
Like other animals, nature is our “default” environment. It's what we’ve called ‘home’ for almost our entire existence (think millions of years) and it’s only in our very recent history (think couple hundred years) that we’ve started significantly separating ourselves from this natural environment.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my central heating/AC, my comfy king size bed and the 17 different Apple devices I’m connected to 10 hours a day. The industrial and technological revolutions have made our lives immeasurably better and has more than doubled our life expectancy…
But just like we have a genetic requirement for getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night, consuming a diet of real food (high quality protein, fat and carbohydrates), having a clear brain-body connection, moving fast, lifting heavy things and having deep, meaningful relationships, our genes (and by extension, our physiology) literally have a requirement for time spent interacting with nature.
So...If optimum health is your goal, then spending time in nature is NOT optional. It is an essential requirement for your brain (and therefore body) to function properly.
YOU CAN WATCH DR. SASSE’S HIKE AT ALGONQUIN PARK BELOW: