Nature – Renew Yourself by Getting Outside

Dave Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist

Earlier this week I had the pleasure to run on Mason Creek at Staunton State Park. It’s that time of year where one day there’s snow on the trail and after a few days of a melt/freeze cycle it’s an ice flow. With our warm weather of late the changes are happening quickly and it can make for interesting gear choices. The ever changing trail conditions is a beautiful sight to see. The frequent changes portends of the coming changing of seasons. For many, the next few months is the time of year when they come out of hibernation to enjoy the beautiful outdoors surrounding us. Being outside provides so many positive things for our body and mind.

Numerous studies continue to show the positive effects that being in nature has on our brain. With all the new research telling us what we already know, the act of actually getting outside and enjoying our beautiful surroundings is not something most do enough. With so many known positive attributes to being outside, why do many not enjoy the outdoors while knowing so well how good it is for us?

Unfortunately renewing self generally comes last on the list of to-dos. This time in nature allows us time to reflect on our lives and to reset our personal compass in the direction of what’s most important. For me personally, being outside on a run, hike or mountain bike ride is truly like a drug. So much so, that many of the people working at Staunton know me well. I’m generally there at least 3 times a week. This time in nature provides a time for my mind to rest, bring clarity and remind me that every day we have on this earth is truly a gift.

The great thing about where we all live is that we have so many wonderful places to spend time outside. It doesn’t matter if it’s a short or long hike. The key is to just do it. It could be a stroll up Staunton Ranch trail or maybe a longer more intense hike up Mason Creek in Staunton. They each have their magic. If you have not hiked up Mason Creek, it’s like entering a different place.

So here’s a challenge this week: get outside for a hike. Head to Staunton State Park or another local Open Space and just hike. Don’t go heads down trying to just get it done. Stop occasionally and take in the view of all of the surrounding beauty. Close your eyes and just listen. Look at the trees and see how many colors of green you can see. If there’s a stream, sit next to it and clear your mind. Listen to the water; observe how it flows. Before you know it, your mind will become clearer and you’ll have a sense of lightness. This is relaxation. It’s sadly too foreign for most people these days.

If you accept this challenge, I can guarantee that you’ll have a clearer mind, you’ll approach the next day or coming week happier, more patient and more fulfilled.

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