A Few Surprising Benefits of Taking a Walk Outside

Being in the great outdoors has multiple benefits. Research has shown improvements in mental well-being, self-esteem and energy. It also helps to decrease frustration, worry, depression and tiredness.

Here is another surprising perk.  Exposure to plants such as trees can help to improve your immune system, which in turn helps you to fight off illness. Even the air born chemicals that plants emit to protect themselves from fungus, bacteria and insects may also benefit humans. Scientists think that a two-hour walk in the forest can increase our natural killer cells by 50 %. What's fascinating is that these cells circulate through our bodies killing bacteria, viruses, fungus and other invaders. 

It also turns out that engaging in light activity outdoors is better than doing light activity indoors. Keeping this information in mind, I developed a walking routine that might help you stick to your exercise goals and increase your natural killer cells. I’ve done this routine by the beach, in the forests and on tree lined streets.

  • Walk around for 10 minutes to warm up
  • Do 10 minutes of dynamic stretching – leg swings, squats, arm swings, calf raises
  • Include, not too intense, walking sprints throughout your 20 minute walk that last anywhere from 6-20 seconds, with a 10 second rest
  • Cool down by slowing down and then adding a few total body stretches

Enjoy your walk.

Note for people with afternoon sugar cravings: A brisk power walk is a great way to fend off that 3 pm sugar craving. And, if you have a sweet tooth and need to complete a stressful work-related assignment go for a quick 15-minute walk. Afterwards, you might not be so interested in a sweet treat.