I consider myself very privileged to be living in a part of Hong Kong that allows me to hit the hiking trails within minutes of leaving my front door. Over recent months we have been hitting these trails much more often; on the weekend with Kenny and during the week either on my own or with an ever growing group of lovely ladies also passionate about the beauty of nature in Hong Kong.
So why do we hike in nature? Is it for fitness or to stay in shape? Or might there be other rewards we are seeking?
I came to ask myself this question as I was planning this post on Physical Wellness, and around that time I also came across a couple of comments from two of my favorite blogs that really made me take a closer look.
Sarah Wilson says that she doesn’t exercise to keep fit but rather to have a clear mind. Well I definitely concur with that. And if you remove access to technology while you are in nature then a series of positive effects will result.
In fact researchers have recently found that spending time in nature unplugged from all technology, increased performance on creative, problem solving tasks by 50% in the study group. Whilst existing research had revealed that interactions in nature have been shown to replenish or improve the executive attention functions of the brain, this new study demonstrates that there is a cognitive advantage from spending time in nature. Further work in this area may also go on to show that being in nature may allow the mind to go into state of ‘introspection’ much like when it is at rest, thereby allowing us to think and restore.
So there is no doubt that being in nature is effective for physical wellbeing as well as mental, psychological wellbeing. But is that reason we want to be in nature to exercise?
In another blog I read over the weekend from MindBodyGreen, the author says “If you drag yourself to the gym simply because you want to stay in shape, it’s time to reconsider”…what you are doing. Whatever it is you do it should be something you look forward to.
Ain’t that the truth!
In reflecting on this I realize that I’ve taken this approach quite unconsciously. I am no longer getting out hitting the trails because I want to stay in shape, because I want to lose those kilo’s that for years just haven’t been able to come away…no I’m getting out on the trails because I love it! I love being in nature and I love how it makes me feel, physically, mentally and spiritually.
I look forward to it, I love what nature offers our senses, I love the diversity of what Hong Kong has to offer our minds, bodies and spirits when we are away from her high-rise buildings, traffic noises and built up residential areas. She offers us so much natural beauty in her mountains, hills, country parks, and waterways, we just need take up her offerings.
Just before Christmas Kenny and I tackled Sunset Peak in preparation for our Mt Kinabalu (Borneo) ascent on December 27. It was a cold, windy and wintry day in Hong Kong. At 500 mts we were already in the clouds unable to see more than 5 mts, and there we remained for about 2 hours. I found myself physically challenged yet able to enter a mindful, present state. Mindful of the fierce elements, mindful of the unfamiliar and uneven terrain, and mindful of how I should be holding my body when climbing and descending in such cold weather. I remained in awe of the power of nature and yet still loved the physical challenges this climb bought me.
This is what I call Physical Wellness.
What about you…do you take time to exercise or find your physical wellness outside or in nature? Share with us how it makes you feel?
Atchley RA, Strayer DL, Atchley P (2012) Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51474. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051474