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The Benefits of Exercising Outside

The Benefits of Exercising Outside

Thank you, nature, for a truly spectacular day and for reminding me of my good fortune. Despite a looming deadline, I recently decided to take a time-out. Off to the nearby walking trail I went, in hopes of shaking off a late-afternoon slump. Three laps was my goal. That should wake me up without sucking too much time out of my day.

The sky was a peaceful shade of blue, adorned with puffy white clouds. The grass and trees greener than green, thanks to an abundance of rain this year. Birds chirping, dogs yapping, and a sprinkling fountain sang the sweet song of summer.

My energy level rose and three laps turned into four and “hello,” fellow walker. I surprised myself and broke out in a run. OK, not a run. It was more of a jog, but no matter. Lap five, and “hello,” lady in the cute hat, and your little dog, too. And I began to marvel at the experience. Lap six, and “isn’t it an incredible day?”

There was a time when I couldn’t consider the notion of leaving my house without a cane, due to multiple sclerosis. And what was I doing just two summers ago? I was rounding out ten months of treatment for triple-negative breast cancer. Of all the people I passed in our little park, not one could have guessed at those things. This body, for all its scars and history, feels like a million bucks. Oh, it’s not that I don’t have any aches or pains or signs of aging. Of course, I do, but I’m happy to have them.

When I returned home, I took out my little pink appointment calendar from 2011 and there it was. August 19. The date was marked simply, “yay!” signaling my final radiation treatment and what I hoped to be the end of cancer treatment. So far, so good. No, I take that back. So far, it’s spectacular! If 2011 Me could see 2013 Me, she’d be shocked.

I’ve written before about the value of green exercise and there are lots of studies on the subject. When it comes right down to it, I don’t need any studies to tell me what I experience each time I step out into the greenness and take a walk. I experience a heightened awareness of my surroundings and of self. I do my most creative thinking on those walks, as my spirit frees itself from the constraints of my self-imposed “to do” list.

There are many harsh realities in this world and getting caught up in them can pile on the stress. During my green walks, I can unplug and tap into the positive side. Green walks provide me with a heightened sense of appreciation for the stuff of life, and it lasts well beyond the walk. Green exercise makes me a happier, more productive person.

Got a few minutes? Take a stroll in a park or down a treelined street. Walk, jog, run. Use a cane, roll in a wheelchair. Bicycle, scooter, skateboard. Go alone, take a friend, take your spouse, take the kids. Take a deep breath. Notice. Daydream. Savor.

Related Reading
Improve Mood and Self-Esteem With Green Exercise
Walking Your Way to a Healthier Mind, Body & Soul

Post photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Read more: Blogs, Cancer, Conditions, Exercises, Family, Fitness, Fun, General Health, Green, Health, Life, Living with MS, Mental Wellness, Multiple Sclerosis, Natural Remedies, Nature, Outdoor Activities, Spirit, Stress,

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Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis and Catch That Look: Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. She is a freelance writer and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo


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11:28AM PDT on Apr 2, 2014


1:52PM PDT on Mar 10, 2014


1:34PM PST on Mar 3, 2014


4:27AM PST on Jan 30, 2014


4:12PM PST on Jan 5, 2014

Fortunately I live near a large park/preserve. Every time I visit I receive the gifts of peace and joy from the trees, wildlife, lakes and vegetation.. I am so grateful to be close to a woods, and all the wonders therein..... take a walk, it can change your attitude, quickly.

10:34AM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

Green stars for all the comments! If you would like a green star from me, send me a message! I think the medical community should encourage patients to spend more time in nature. They should actually write a prescription "Spend time in nature X times per week as often as need. - (name of doctor)". Spending time in nature can have positive effects that can lasts for days. Sometimes even more powerful than the drugs that one takes.

10:28AM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

The park I frequent has ducks as well as a walking trail. I love it. And you can feed the ducks.

10:24AM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

Spending time in nature raises your vibration so if you are feeling down, drained, stressed, etc. go there. It is free and healing place. Write a prescription to yourself to go to your nearest park (or whichever park you are drawn to) and spend time over there. You will experience how uplifted you feel afterwards. Why? Nature has a very high vibration and being around places and people who have high vibrations have a positive effect on you and you become healthier and more positive. Feel free to add to my comment. :-)

8:13AM PDT on Sep 21, 2013

I agree, time outside is so important.

1:46PM PDT on Sep 4, 2013

Sylvie A.,

Since this a USA (and maybe, UK- though never seen) English Language website and I (and I am sure many other English language only members) would like to understand what you posted, could you please:

Post in USA or I guess UK English Language (figure we might be able to understand), if you know how to write in USA or I guess UK English Language?

Or If you do not know how to write in USA or I guess UK English Language,

Then could you please type out what you are going to post and use one of the many free translation websites* to translate what you are typed and post in on website in the future?

*- I do this every time I am trying contact people, within foreign websites that do not offer translation in English Language or does not communicate that they understand The English Language. I have recently used; but have used others in the past and seen little difference.

Sorry, other members, but using’s messaging does not allow enough characters, tried to send the above through that service.

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