For mental health awareness month, we thought we’d take an appreciative look at all the health benefits that the great outdoors can offer us. And there’s no better place for it than the Scottish Highlands. As well as blowing away the cobwebs and making us feel renewed, a long, brisk walk outside can do us a whole world of good as it also strengthens our bones, muscles, joints, and mental health. If you need a little inspiration to get outside and have a stroll, consider these benefits as motivation.
Relax and Unwind
More than anything, getting outside is a fantastic form of escapism. Think about it. Just you, the trees, the wind. It’s a great way to turn your phone off for a wee bit and live in the moment. 9 in 10 millennials confess to opening their phone merely for the sake of it! So take a step back. Feel the sun on your face. Or walk with a friend and have a catch up without any distractions.
Giving yourself physical time away from stressful environments also gives your brain a break, leaving more room for creative breakthroughs, rational thinking and peace of mind. Even going for a brisk daily walk makes a huge difference. Breathing in fresh air clears out your lungs and increases your oxygen intake to the brain, therefore improving focus and concentration. So you’ll go back to the office – or your studies, or to planning the kids’ upcoming birthday parties – with a fresh head and new ideas!
Exercising – walking, hiking, yoga – in nature is also known as ‘green exercise’. Many studies show that exposure to greenspaces drastically improves a range of different health benefits from de-stressing to calming our heart rate. Being outside is a great way to get your daily intake of vitamin D, too – which gives you that energising endorphin hit that makes you feel good.
In our beautiful part of the Highlands you can climb a mountain, kayak on a loch, stroll alongside the River Lochy which runs right alongside our holiday park, or cycle along the Caledonian Canal – and that’s just for starters!
Physical Health Benefits
Be it due to work, travel or family, many adults in the UK spend nine hours a day sitting down. Going for a brisk walk or a great hike are both brilliant ways of ensuring you stay healthy. Walking every day helps you maintain a healthy weight, lowers your disease risk, increases heart health and makes life easier for your joints in the long run. Exercise – in any form – helps you de-stress and therefore rest better – so you’ll be able to sleep through the night without any interruptions.
Don’t worry, we’re not talking about a bathtub full of trees, twigs and leaves. ‘Forest bathing’ is actually more of a mindfulness practice. The term comes from Japan in the 80s, as a physiological and psychological exercise called shinrin-yoku which means ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’. Thus emerged a type of ecotherapy. Many people take to forest bathing now as a way to reconnect with themselves in a tranquil, open environment.
Arguably the biggest benefit of any outdoor activity is the sense of achievement that comes with it. Being high on endorphins and buzzing from a great day in nature, you’ll come home feeling refreshed, bubbly, and ready to face the rest of the day.