Take a walk on a beach, hike in the rainforest or on one of many hiking trails all around the island. Ride a bike. Fill your lungs with clean, fresh air. Feel the warmth of the life-giving sunshine on your skin. Swim or snorkel in the crystal clear water. Observe the natural world…the birds chirping in the bush, the lizards scampering, the bees buzzing, and the butterflies flitting about in the flowers. It’s all so amazing if you stop to watch and think about it. Every little creature has its place in the ecosystem. We know about how important the bees are to us, but even those we consider to be pests such as ants, flies and cockroaches are “detritivores”, meaning that they eat garbage and decaying matter thus keeping our world cleaner than it would be without them.
Becoming disconnected with nature can cause many problems for society and for our health. We commonly see the effects that being a couch-potato can have on the lives of those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and other heart problems arise from lack of exercise and fresh air. Depression is another, often devastating side effect of a sedentary lifestyle.
Moving around more and being outside more is not only better for our bodies, but it helps with emotional issues and even helps us learn better.
A study published in Psychological Science, indicates that just being out in nature gives your brain a break from everyday overstimulation. If we’re always thinking about the things we need to do, we can get overwhelmed. The natural world can have a restorative effect on our attention levels and prevent burn-out. This is also why recess and physical education are so good for children.
While working out indoors is good, walking, running, biking swimming, yoga, tai chi or any form of movement outdoors can make it more fun and help you stick with your exercise program. A study from Glasgow University showed that people who walked, biked, or ran in nature had better mental health such as lower levels of depression and feelings of stress than people who worked out indoors.
We’re fortunate to live in the Caribbean where we can enjoy outdoor activities year-round. Getting a massage on the beach is another great way to derive extra benefits from something good for you by adding the natural aspect. Feeling the fresh breeze across your skin and listening to the sounds of the sea adds a whole other dimension to your relaxation. So get out there and take a walk in the sand, a run through the trees, a swim in the turquoise water, or have a massage in a natural setting. Give it a shot – you’ve got nothing to lose but stress and tension!