If you take a few moments and browse through Mark Sisson's awesome blog, Mark's Daily Apple, you'll find article after article about the benefits of being outside. From returning to our primal roots of connecting to nature, to the incredible benefits of vitamin D. Basically, being outside is impossible to argue against. I have read countless articles and studies on the positive effects of the wild, but I have no interest in getting into the science of it all. I simply want to share my experience and hope that it might inspire you to either get out more, or get out in some way at all if you never do.
To me, getting outside could be looked at in two ways: an escape, and a return. I am escaping the world that us humans have created. This is a world of responsibilities, technology, negativity, processed goods, concrete and metal and on and on. In my mind, almost everything we experience in the man-made world is some form of stressor. Even if you think it's relaxing to have a bag of chips and watch a couple TV shows, in reality, you're not doing anything to help yourself. You're slowly "poisoning" yourself with things your body and mind were not born to experience. I am not about to sit here and tell you you should toss all that out. Hell man, I love watching a good TV show or movie, and I love having a good snack here and there! But if these things become your definition of relaxation, I am sorry, you are doing a good bit of damage to your overall well being. So, when I head out to the wilderness, I am escaping the “trap” that is all this craziness we have created for ourselves. I don’t have pressure; I don’t have my senses being overloaded with lights and technology. I don’t have people bustling by me with too much to do to enjoy a moment with themselves. I am totally free to naturally do what I want.
Sometimes there tends to be a negative connotation with escaping. Like drinking alcohol or working out too much. This is why I also have found that getting outdoors is a return as well. It’s a return to what is naturally there for us to survive in. Nature is the only thing that we can experience that we did not create. And because of that, there is something incredibly unique about experiencing it. In my experience (and I feel like it’s a pretty good deal of it), the only people I have met who do not enjoy being out in nature are very, very inactive people and very, very depressed people. Aside from those guys, I have never seen anyone spend time in the wild and not enjoy themselves. This is more than enough proof to me that we are meant to be out there on a somewhat regular basis. Shoot, the people I know who spend a ton (I mean, at least 8+ hours a week) out in the wild are some of the happiest, chilliest, most enjoyable people I know.
Now mind you, when I refer to outdoors, I don’t mean going for a walk around your neighborhood. If that’s all you can do, do it as much as possible of course, but I'm talking about more. I am really referring to getting out to the woods, the mountains, the ocean, a hidden lake somewhere, The Wild! Spending time in a place where the only sign of mankind is a trodden path and/or a friend or two that join you is what I'm talking about. Outside, to me means, the wilderness. If you want the full effects of reconnecting with nature, get into TRUE nature and soak it all in!
Today I found a large slab of rock stretching out into the Potomac River out in Great Falls, Maryland. I navigated my way out there, laid down in the sun, closed my eyes and just chilled. I could hear birds chirping, crickets and frogs buzzing through the woods, snaps of tree branches from deer and random splashes of water from the fish in the river. No cars, no people, no hum of a generator or anything. As cheesy as it sounds, I had an uncontrollable smile on my face within 10 minutes. All I could think about was climbing rocks, scaling trees and wading through water. When I left my nap area, I found a collection of about 8 deer feeding in the woods by a little rain-pond. I just perched myself on a fallen tree and watched them for a few minutes. They heard me and sat there watching me. I then moved along and when I turned back around, they were back to grazing.
I know I can be a little fanatic about nature. Most of my California friends know me as someone who would rather spend my life frolicking naked through the woods then doing pretty much anything else. I don’t expect my view of nature to be that of everyone else in the world. But I do believe, with all my heart, that every single one of us would be happier, more at peace, more relaxed and healthier if we just got out into Real World on a somewhat regular basis. If you agree, go outside and do it! If you don't agree, just go try, see what happens...
I hope you can find your way out there soon. If you want some company, I am never one to turn down an adventure in the wild!
Never Stop, GET FIT.