Exercise Outside and Absorb the Health Benefits of NatureMay 01, 2022 05:46PM ● By John Walcott
The idea that the natural environment and green surroundings have a beneficial effect on the human biological system is not a new one. Indigenous people have practiced this belief for millennia. Advanced practitioners of mind-body disciplines have quietly noted the increased awareness and the positive influence on their bodies and overall wellbeing while in nature.
Enjoying the outdoors while practicing qigong, yoga, martial arts, walking, prayer, meditation, and other activities can have a therapeutic effect and enhance your practice in unique ways. For example, all plants release phytoncides as part of their daily metabolic process. Phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal qualities which help plants fight disease. When people breathe in these chemicals, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells. These cells kill tumor- and virus-infected cells in our bodies.
Trees and Plants. All plants absorb air, light, energy, water, and minerals. For best results find a quiet safe environment that is pesticide- and parasite-free with healthy plants. Healthy trees help detoxify the body cells and support oxygenating the body’s organ systems. Since they radiate universal life-force, they are transformers of negative (sick) energy into clean healthy life-giving abundant energy. All trees serve this purpose, but pine, cypress and white aspen are considered the most powerful.
Flowers. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that passive viewing of a typical flower image downregulated negative emotions and decreased both elevated blood pressure and cortisol levels, which can be elevated due to stress. In Medical Qigong theory, flowers are regarded as “trapped sunshine” and nourishing to the heart organ system and corresponding emotions. In addition, their fragrances have a positive mood-altering effect mitigating the effects of depression, nausea, pain and stress on the human body.
Oceans and Rivers. When exercising near large bodies of water, the body’s cells absorb light, energy and resonant vibrations that are stored in oceans, lakes, streams, and rivers. Practicing your healing art beachside in the morning or evening helps to magnify the light and energy of the sun. When the skin absorbs sunlight and produces vitamin D, that cycle triggers the production of dopamine and serotonin, the body’s “feel-good” chemicals. The top layer of the skin produces beta-endorphin, a hormone that makes people feel happy. In addition, sea air is mineral rich and charged with healthy negative ions that increase the body’s ability to absorb oxygen molecules and help balance levels of serotonin.
Studies demonstrate the active flow and sound of waves alters the wave patterns in the brain resulting in a deeply calm and relaxed state. Prayer or meditating by the ocean can disperse negative emotions and revitalize the mind and body.
Whether you live near water or a park, exercising outdoors, even in your own backyard, will provide genuine health benefits. It does not matter what exercise form you practice or if you just sit outside in the fresh air, it can inexpensively enhance your well-being and your life.
John Walcott, Qigong Instructor, is the Owner of The Cloudwalker Place in Vero Beach. He is Former Member of the Board of Directors of the National Qigong Association (NQA.org). For more information on outdoor and beachside qigong classes, visit TheCloudWalker.com.