Why everyone needs to do this
Find yourself in Nature
By Dr. Michelle Lim, D.C.
If you think about it, we are contained in a box 24 hours a day. We sit in an office (or school), we sit in a car, and we sit home. Everything we do revolves around being contained in walls, inhaling stale air and living under artificial light.
We have become so detached from nature, that our thinking has become limited as well. Live in a box, think inside the box.
Our culture is too conditioned (and comfortable) to do everything in confinement, that even working out is presented in a box package with many machines, all in the name of “health.” Now, I’m not talking smack on gyms, because I go to one too, and it’s great to have the luxury of working out despite weather hazards or having the fear of being attacked by wild animals. It’s convenient and it’s great, especially for city folk.
But what I’m writing about today is not about convenience or a new revolutionary exercise. I’m talking about some serious soul searching and a spiritual connection to mother nature, God and yourself.
LET’S GO FOR A HIKE!
Let’s face it, being in houses, cars and offices is self-limiting. Not only are you limited physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well. Despite XM radio, The Walking Dead, and endless forms of entertainment available on TV, iPads, and iPhones, it’s mind numbing. It offers no new stimulation for our senses and doesn’t encourage creativity. We become like little robots and droids just brain washing ourselves with the endless repetitive crap that’s on TV.
WHAT DOES HIKING HAVE TO OFFER?
So we sit in a box and exercise in a box. But does health come from a box? Surely not. No matter the advances in technology, promising a better, quicker, more effective work out, nothing beats the benefits of getting your work out on in nature.
“In order to hear the birds, one must be with the silence.”
There’s numerous benefits from sun exposure. Not only is it bright and beautiful, casting light upon the earth that we live on, but studies have actually shown that it’s beneficial for mental health, especially in terms of warding off depression (in particular, seasonal affective disorder).
What’s more motivating is the gaining popularity of Vitamin D and it’s essential properties for overall immune function. The most effective and natural way to acquire vitamin D is through direct sunlight on your skin for at least 10-15 minutes everyday. People who are overweight require more Vitamin D since Vitamin D is oil soluble and is hidden in their fat. Vitamin D is important for :
cell formation and cell longevity
Reap the benefits of sunshine. Fight depression and strengthen your immune system while getting a glow.
the aging process
vascular system health
healthy mood and overall feelings of well-being
weight management, including carbohydrate and fat metabolism
hair and hair follicles
strong and healthy bones
Aside from enjoying the warmth of the sun and reaping it’s clinical benefits, being out in nature also encourages neuroplasticity and improves proproception.
By walking, running or jogging on an uneven mountain terrain, you challenge your body’s muscles to react, balance and accommodate. This strengthens your sense of knowing your body’s position without having to look (proprioception). By improving proprioception, you acquire the balance skills necessary to maintain stability, improve agility, and fine-tune coordination skills so you can perform physical activities accurately and consistently. Proprioception exercises also reduce the risk of injury by teaching the body to react appropriately to sudden changes in the environment.
From the vivid colors of the leaves, to the sound of birds, to the smell of trees and flowers, to the feel of fresh air and the heat of the sun, hiking provides constant stimulation to all our senses. This type of activity promotes brain activation in different regions, encouraging dendrite branching and stimulates brain cell growth.
MAY YOUR WALK THROUGH NATURE, LEAD YOU TO YOURSELF
As you’ve experienced, being in nature is quite grounding. I love hiking mainly for the fact that it reminds me of how much beauty there is in the world. I get to exercise and enjoy God’s landscape, all of which is free. You get light, a beautiful sky, a gorgeous sunset, oxygen, a workout and the birds serenade you! This is the stuff on Animal Planet or the Travel Channel, people! (You know what I mean.)
Hiking inspires gratitude and a sense of awe and wonder, which many of us have left behind in childhood. For me personally, hiking acts as a reset button to my emotional and mental health. It reminds me to stay focused on the important things in life-like love, family and relationships. It clears out my mind and re-organizes my priorities.
Nature is also my muse. There’s something about hiking that stirs up the creative juices and is the catalyst to pursuing my biggest dreams. It opens the lines of communication to the Universe. Free from distraction, I am able to solve problems and know what I need to do in order to accomplish my goals. I’d have to give Mother Nature most of the credit for not only problem solving, but creating most of my new ideas.
So you don’t have to bust your butt in the gym, when you can both exercise and enjoy an outdoor activity, such as hiking. Hiking gives us the opportunity to silence all the external and internal noise that we acquire from our daily lives. It gives us a chance to reclaim what is inherently ours and rejoice in the wonder of nature.
Think outside the box.
Dr. Michelle Lim enjoying a beautiful hike in the Santa Monica Mountains.
“Physical Fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” -John F. Kennedy.
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