Today we introduce our guest blogger, Susan Allison-Dean. Susan is a Registered Nurse and shares her love for nature and health below. Take it away, Susan!
Leave a Trail of Pounds Behind
What if I told you that there is something that could help you on your healthy journey that is so fabulous that it will leave you in a state of awe? Make you say, “Wow”! What if I added that it is free or available for a minimal charge? In addition it will calm and soothe you, and can help you burn calories. Hard to believe?
Guess what, it does exist: Nature!
Let’s look at three reasons engaging in nature is an important step in weight management.
First: Reduces Stress
You know the drill. Your boss set a ridiculous deadline for a project you are the leader on, your child spikes a fever as guests arrive for a family barbecue, the highway sign flashes multi-vehicle accident ahead. No matter how much we meditate, remind ourselves to breath, stressors are around us and can jump-start our hormones into fight or flight mode. If our house is on fire, this fight or flight mode is a good thing. These fast-hormones will help us get out of the burning house fast. But when they are revved up to go repeatedly or for prolonged periods of time, they wear us down. Many of us have learned to reach for a cookie (maybe even the whole box), a beer or other unhealthy stress reduction methods to calm us down.
Enter nature. Countless studies have found that choosing to take a walk in the park, a swim in the ocean, plant a garden-any activity outside in nature will reduce stress allowing you to skip the impulsive, weight gaining behaviors.
Two: Burns Calories
When we think of burning calories, many of us think of a hard workout in a gym. Sweat pouring from our forehead as we run to nowhere on a treadmill. A class of women wrapped in brightly colored tights and sports bras, that look like they were painted on, waving their hands every which way. Sure, those methods work and maybe we use these options ourselves. However, engaging in nature can be a great workout! Let’s take a look at some calorie burning numbers, shall we?
Hiking: One Hour 350-600 Calories
Raking The Lawn: One Hour 250-400 Calories
Badminton: A half hour 130-200 Calories
Beach Volleyball: One Hour 400-700 Calories
Kayaking: One Hour 300-450 Calories
(Calories burned varies on individuals weight and intensity of exercise)
Go ahead, Google some activities you might want to do outside and see how many calories you can burn.
Three: It’s Fun!
Let’s be real. The more fun something is, the more we will probably want to do it, right? Nature is free entertainment and it is always changing. Even if you walk the same route everyday, you will notice something new to excite your senses. The leaves changing color, the sound of ice chiming on freshly chilled branches, wildlife nestled in amongst the leaves, the first flowers that bloom in spring-all of this is going on right outside our doors.
Maybe you want to push yourself, try something new, adventurous? Enroll in a scuba class and explore what lives below the waves, take your yoga practice to a new level and try it on a stand up paddleboard, or join a hiking group and make some new friends.
When we add “engaging in nature” to our self-health toolbox we do more than lose weight. We enliven our senses, awaken our spirit, and maybe even have a few laughs. Maybe best of all, we’ll leave some unwanted pounds on the trails we’ve traveled.
Susan Allison-Dean, MS, RN, AHN-BC
The Nature Nurse