If exercise was a pill then everyone would be taking it.

Are you sitting comfortably? Well don’t! Get up, get moving! There has been a lot of press recently about mental health and its prevalence is now understood to be an epidemic in modern life. In the west we have always treated the mind and body as separate entities, but really this perception is short sighted. Whatever is good for your physical body is going to overspill positively onto your mental health.

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Our busy modern lives are plagued with sedentary living, overstimulation and lack of daylight. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point out there is an obvious mismatch between our evolutionary past and the way we live now. It also doesn’t take a scientist to spell out how exercise makes you feel. However we all love some facts and if we know it is scientifically proven to boost our well being and overall health perhaps we are more likely to get up off the couch.

We all know we should move more and sit less for our physical health to benefit but really the evidence for the positive impact on our mental health is even more overwhelming. The fact is regular exercise directly affects the brain.  It promotes a better blood supply and improves neuronal health; just think of that as you are doing star jumps! The brain fog dissipates and you get a mood boost too. Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our well being; reduce stress and anxiety and increase our self esteem. It is an alternative treatment for depression and anxiety and one that comes without any scary side effects. It’s also free. A brisk 30 minute walk in your lunch break, preferably uphill will get the blood pumping and endorphins flowing.

But if you want a double whammy feel good dose get moving outside. The effects are magnified in nature, its true green exercise makes you happy!

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A study by Urban Mind show that there has been an even stronger finding between exercise and well being when it is done outside in nature. This positive effect can last up  to 7 hours. So if you head out in the morning for 30 mins you can stay in good spirits all day in the office. Imagine if the whole country took part. Perhaps our NHS bill would come down. Mind.org has introduced eco therapy, an umbrella name to describe activities in nature or ‘green exercise’. There is outstanding ‘evidence that portrays the protective effect of greenness on depression’.

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In 1982 the Japanese made forest bathing part of the national health programme. Not as strange as it sounds and not actual bathing! The purpose of this initiative was to get people to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the forest. An 8 year extensive study found just 30 mins of this had a significant effect on the stress hormone cortisol. The forest environment appeared to decrease activity in the sympathetic nervous system which triggers our fight and flight response.

Your green prescription doesn’t have to be over implicated. Outdoor exercise isn’t merely a treatment for the modern health epidemic; most fundamentally it is a huge protective blanket that we can all use freely to keep our mind and body healthy.

Outdoor fitness is the core to all of our retreats. Our locations have been handpicked so we can literally step out to the most incredible training ground. We use the natural environment as a playground and have created a timetable to ensure you move in a varied and functional way that is akin to our hunter gatherer ancestors. If you can feel the benefits after 30 mins just imagine how you would feel after a week on retreat!

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