Green Exercise

Green spaces such as parks, forests, hills provide an opportunity for people to take time out from their daily routine and stressful environments and engage in nature, connect with their senses in outdoor activities.  As populations become more urbanised, green spaces will provide a future key role in the promotion of health and well-being.  Outdoor activities and health and well-being has many benefits, such as when visiting green spaces, simply viewing nature may assist in the maintenance of health.  Wolf & Wohlfant (2014) claim as people visit green spaces regularly and engage in physical fitness, they are less likely to be overweight and by integrating regular visits to a park establishes good health and fitness routines which acts as an intervention to a sedentary life. 

Forests are natural environments usually defined as ‘areas covered by trees.  Forest bathing is a term used known as (‘shinrin-yoku’ in Japanese) it is a traditional meditative practice characterized by walking in a forest or other types of exercises which take place combined with awareness and contemplation of the surrounding natural environment (Antonelli et al. 2019). Although forest bathing originated in Japan, it has become popular in western countries to promote relaxation and aid in stress relief.  Current evidence suggests there are additional benefits such as an improved immune system, cardiorespiratory and respiratory system and elevated mood.

Studies undertaken by Firby & Raine (2022) outline in their research there is  increasing evidence to suggest the numerous health benefits from engagement with the outdoors, including enhanced immune functioning, improvement in sleep quality, mental health and well-being outcomes include reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, stress reduction and increased self-reported happiness.

References:

Antonelli, M,  Donelli, D, Carlone, L, Maggini, V Firenzuoli, F & Bedeschi, E (2022) Effects of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) on individual well-being: an umbrella review, International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 32:8, 1842-1867, doi: 10.1080/09603123.2021.1919293

Firby H, Raine R. (2022) Engaging with nature and the outdoors: A scoping review of therapeutic applications in contemporary occupational therapy. British Journal of Occupational Therapy. 0(0). doi:10.1177/03080226221126893

Wolf, I. D. & Wohlfant, T. (2014) Walking, hiking and running in parks: A multidisciplinary assessment of health & well-being benefits. 130. Pp.89-103

Exercise & Natural Environments

There is much research on the physiological and psychological aspects of physical activity and our well-being. However, have you considered how your environment influences your health?

Green Exercise

The majority of people live in urban cities, with an increase in technology and pollution, most exercise training takes places in a leisure centre or gym. There are multiple choices of exercising in the ‘great outdoors’ such as local green parks, beaches, gardens, beaches, coastal regions and forests. Studies have shown that exercising in a natural environment and engaging with nature have greater results on ‘mental well-being’ compared to training indoors. With longer and warmer days, integrate some outdoor exercise into your lifestyle and add some variety to your workout

Psychology of Marathon Running

SOFTV3-201904271131160132989

Participants competing in long endurance events such as the Marathon has steadily risen over the years.  Data taken of both demographic and socio-economic groups from various studies has seen a rise in running becoming a popular sport.

The Marathon runner embarks on this challenge for many reasons and they must adapt their lifestyle and training far beyond the recreational exerciser to include high levels of demanding physiological and psychological adaptations to push beyond their current capabilities.  Furthermore, the rewards and positive benefits of this training will outweigh the negatives of marathon running.

The London Marathon is my third marathon, as a veteran runner I have improved with age, both on personal performance together with a faster post marathon recovery rate.  Training for a Marathon demands a consistent, disciplined, structured routine which will manifest into other areas of the runners life to include; personal goal achievement, better life management, psychological and emotional strategies for coping and better vitality and health.

Camino & Resilience

pexels-photo-562623

The route continued to Palas De Rei. After leaving Portomarin, crossing the River Mino we continued uphill steadily through woodland, the rain continued and got heavier and heavier. Continuing through small hamlets, passing the Hospital de la Cruz. Arriving at Vendas de Naron to get a ‘pilgrim stamp’ the old Romanesque Chapel, then continuing along the paved path, arriving at Sierra de Ligonde which offered fantastic views over the valleys. Particular parts of the route were isolated and quiet, apart from a rather large dog. The fog was dense and we were soaked through.

Approaching A Calzada the weather was so bad, we took shelter under a tree. There were other walkers, one an Australian man, we had met further back in other towns.  After discussing the weather, our blisters, stories of one walker getting frostbite back in the Pyrenees, our conversation compared the weather to life and the Camino, there are good and bad times, but we must press forwards.

The Camino de Santiago builds resilience, both emotionally and physically, it enables us to develop a positive mind and can-do-attitude.  We can integrate resilience into our lives on a daily basis, by being more active, getting more sleep and eating well, forgiving ourselves and resolving conflict. These small steps can help us improve our mental health and to face everyday challenges.