Unless you live in an environment close to nature, you may not have immediate opportunities to enjoy the health benefits of walking in a forest or along the shore of a rural lake. Living in a city may mean, at the very least, a walk in the park.
Whichever touch of nature is available, getting away from the world of modern conveniences and gadgets is time well spent for the body, mind and spirit. It’s a chance to “renature” yourself. By definition, renature means to restore to an original or normal condition.
Some of the most innovative minds take experiencing nature to a much deeper level. The environmental trailblazer Rachel Carson wrote, “There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature . . . .” Then there’s Albert Einstein’s. “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Even yourself.
Being “wildly” outdoors keeps the continuous world of natural life that goes on around us in mind. This awareness is a quiet reminder of our true natures, which can easily get sidetracked by modern life.
You do get exercise simply by walking in nature, but there’s a lot more going on. One recent study compared the effects of city walks with forest walks on healthy young women in Japan. Forest walkers experienced both physiological and psychological relaxation compared to the city walkers who were exposed to stressors along the stroll.1 Furthermore, the Japanese have a unique term for nature walks: forest bathing(shinrin-yoku.)2 It’s not about exercising or actually bathing, it’s immersing your five senses in the natural world: a healthy way to renature yourself.