The Great Outdoors and Urbanisation
The global population is increasingly adopting an urban lifestyle with an unprecedented amount of people living in cities (or urban areas). Although this lifestyle has many advantages it may also come at a price to our health if we fail to venture into the great outdoors on a regular basis.
For the largest part of human history we lived the hunter gather lifestyle, consequently humans spent majority of their lives outdoors. Tribesmen were active and they had a close connection with nature, in fact they never saw themselves as separate from it.
Living in the great outdoors was great for their health. Not only did it promote an active lifestyle but it also provided far fewer distractions than living in a city. When the mind is always processing information it cannot relax. City life bombards us with a continuous stream of information, by venturing into the great outdoors we are able to allow our minds and bodies a chance to recover.
I have listed some reasons why you might want to consider spending more time in the great outdoors:
Being outdoors promotes concentration and creativity
I personally find when I am spending time in outdoors, whether in a nature reserve or an urban green space I am more relaxed and ideas seem to flow a lot more readily than when I am in an urban setting.
This may in part be due to lack of distractions (particularly in the great outdoors), the sound of cars, other people rushing around, and the latest advert are not to be seen. This helps me relax and focus on what I want to be doing at that moment, which is quite often nothing.
It is surprising that when you are not distracted or forcing yourself to think, how readily ideas become available to you. Being outdoors has even been found to improve cognition in children with ADHD (Study). So anyone who wants to be able to focus more or overcome any creativity blocks, heading outdoors is the way to go.
The great outdoors is stress free
I often head to the great outdoors for a long camping weekend . As soon as I leave the city, my to do list, any life issues, and everything else seem to melt away. I temporarily become free of any problems I previously had.
Most recently I camped around the South Downs National park in Southern England. It was great to not have to think about the illusionary problems of daily life. This is obviously great for your stress levels. Everything is much simpler so there is less to worry about. None of the other inhabitants of the great outdoors seem to be worrying so it sets a good example for you to follow.
In the city our minds are over-stimulated as there is information to process everywhere we look. Although we are still processing information in nature everything is not on fast forward so it is a lot more relaxing. This means our minds don’t become fatigued. Even green spaces are enough to lower stress levels and improve our mental health. (Study, Study, Study,).
In fact if you don’t take part in any outdoor recreational activities you are more at risk of depression (Study). This may be due to a lack of vitamin D (Study), or it may just because humans still require a closer connection to nature than many of us realize.
Scientists have found that people are significantly happier in green spaces or natural environments than they are in urban habitats (Study). So a whole lot of money spent on studies can tell us what our innate wisdom naturally knows, WE ARE HAPPIER OUTDOORS!!!
I personally find the serenity experienced in nature is far greater than that of any urban green space. So I always try to head to the great outdoors as often as possible. Failing that I settle for second best and head to an urban green space. In any case, getting outdoors in both instances will lower your stress levels and improve your health.
Exercise doesn’t feel like exercise when you are outdoors
In my own experience, when I am hiking a mountain, swimming in the sea, or just strolling in a forest, I don’t feel as though I am exercising. I am simply exploring the moment and enjoying the surroundings. However I am still exercising and providing my body with the movement it was designed for, much more than say a cross trainer!!!
By exploring the Great Outdoors you sort of accidentally create a more functional body as the movement patterns are closer to that of the tribesmen. Our bodies have been engineered to walk, run, swim, climb and carry things. By exploring the great outdoors we are often performing these movement patterns without even realizing.
Nothing compares to outdoor movement if you want to Rewild your body and improve your health.
The Great Outdoors is fun
I have given a number of reasons why the great outdoors is great for your health, however I would be lying if I said these were the main reasons I head outdoors. The core reason I head outdoors is because it’s fun.
Play is something of a lost art in modern society; everything needs to have a reason, a goal, or a benefit. Sometimes it is great to just do things simply because they are fun.
The great outdoors gives you a freedom you cannot experience in an urban environment. You can trust your own instincts and play to your own limits. With that said I do know someone who burnt down a forest in Australia, so have fun but try not to be that guy 😉 You know who you are!!!
Experiencing sunsets, practicing bushcraft, gazing the stars, playing games, exploring movement patterns, chilling around a campfire and having interesting conversations with friends are just some of the fond memories I have of the great outdoors.
Everyone should get to experience these things. So if you are looking for a way to improve your health and have fun at the same time Rewild Your Life and start venturing into the great outdoors.