Global Resilience Solutions > 2013 > October

Why Walk Outdoors? – Here’s the WHY You May Not Know About!

You already know you should be spending more time walking and moving around outdoors, so we’re not here to tell you that.   After all, your whole body-mind organism is screaming that message at you all day long.  What we ARE here to clarify for you is WHY you should do this more often.  And the reasons may surprise you!

In fact, with one small change in how you spend your time outdoors, it looks like you can exponentially increase the health benefits you receive.  And best of all, that one change does NOT involve doing any particular exercise 😉

The Three Levels of Benefit

There are at least three levels to consider, all of them interrelated. The physical level is obvious, the psychological level is obvious to most- but there is another level, the energetic level, on which being outdoors is critical.

On a physical level, we can quantify the Vitamin D our bodies produce through being exposed to sunlight, and its many, many positive effects on our physical health. We can measure the impact of the exercise we do outside. All of this is important. We are designed live and work outdoors, hiking through forests and over hills, and our entire system responds undeniably to that.

Psychologically, the medical community has recognized for a long time the importance of sunlight, and such conditions as Seasonal Affective Disorder, which causes low energy levels and depression due to the short daylight hours of higher-latitude winters, are familiar to many. Personally, I have always felt the winter malaise has as much to do with the lack of growing, green plants as the lack of sunlight. But there are other key psychological benefits to be gained from being outdoors. It has always throughout history been the practice of the well-to-do to go to places with wide-open vistas and water. Ascetics of Authentic Ancient Traditions throughout history have done the same- mountaintops being particularly popular. Wide open spaces, and particularly the energy of large bodies of water, have a transformative effect on the brain. They facilitate meditation, relax the mind, stimulate creativity and clear unproductive emotions and energetic blocks. Some health systems suggest that just looking at things ahead in the distance, or at objects above the horizontal plane, changes thought patterns.

One of the key principles of resilience is that the physical, psychological and energetic worlds can all impact and change one another. For instance, Vitamin D produced by sunlight exposure has been shown to have an essential role in our mental wellbeing, for instance in preventing dementia.

On the energetic level, things get interesting. We know that all living things, plants and animals alike, generate electromagnetic fields and coherent light emissions, and we can demonstrate that even plants respond to information communicated through that energy field. We humans were made to be surrounded by the energy fields of other living things, and we still respond to that energy. I may not know what exactly my body-mind organism is saying to the trees or the trees to my body, but I do know that I’m better for it. All living things emit energetic frequency, and to be surrounded by the healthy frequency of a vibrant ecosystem, not to mention the frequencies being put out by the sun itself, in turn changes my own frequency, which changes my state of physical health, emotional energy and thought processes.

 

“Grounding”

One interesting body of research suggests that we should not only be walking out in nature, but doing so barefoot. Grounding, as it’s called, resulted in part from the observation that those who walk barefoot at least once a day suffer less inflammation than others. Inflammation is a key part of most disease processes from arthritis to heart disease and an indicator of poor tissue health.

It works like this: we often think of the earth as electrically neutral because of its ability to absorb and neutralise vast amounts of electrical current, but in reality, it does this on such a regular basis thanks to lightning strikes that it is in fact negatively charged. What that means is that there are a whole lot of free electrons available from it, electrons that we are preventing ourselves from absorbing because of our rubber and synthetic-soled shoes.  And that’s the one change that will pay huge dividends – just put on footwear that doesn’t act as a barrier to this electron absorption!

(For more info on “grounding” or “earthing,” as it’s sometimes called, have a look at this video…)

 

The benefit from being in direct contact with the earth is twofold.

First, we absorb a great deal of residual electromagnetic energy in the surrounding environment from the ambient radio, microwave and infrared pollution with which our society saturates the electromagnetic spectrum. Numerous studies have shown a direct impact on our health, notably related to cancer. By grounding ourselves, we are plugging in to the earth’s normal and far more powerful field, the one we were designed to be in contact with, clearing our systems. The earth’s energy field is also essential for setting up a healthy internal bioelectric environment and a number of natural rhythms, including circadian rhythm.

Second, the abundant free electrons available through contact with the ground have a powerful antioxidant effect, destroying the free radical toxins that are so abundant in our society. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules which are produced naturally in the metabolic process and which the body uses as part of the immune system. Your body has mechanisms to neutralize excess free radicals, but when too many of the molecules build up, that system is overwhelmed. Unfortunately, sources of free radicals in our society are so many that these molecules build up to harmful levels, causing inflammation and facilitating cancer and other diseases.

Common sources of free radicals include:
– Radiation- X-ray and microwave radiation increase the production of free radicals.
– Heavy metals- metals such as arsenic, mercury, lead, aluminum and cadmium are particularly pernicious because our bodies have no means of eliminating them. Sources include common dental fillings, food preservatives, cosmetics, antiperspirants, aluminum cookware.
– Chlorine and fluoride- lots of sources, notably tap water
– Propelene Glycol and Sodium laurel Sulphate- common ingredients in many personal-care products
– Hydrogenated trans-fatty oils- these fat molecules have been modified through long-term exposure to heat or chemical process. They oxidize much more quickly than ordinary fat molecules, releasing free radicals at a rate that kills or damages the host cell. They include shortening, deep-fryer oil, non-dairy creamers and a number of common cooking oils.

A number of other benefits to going barefoot, or in leather footware as our ancestors did, have been suggested. Running, for instance, was and in some places still is a traditionally barefoot activity, strange as that sounds. Shoes alter our gait, and guarantee that we land heel-first, with maximum skeletal shock, rather than toe-first, minimising the impact. Beyond that, the thickness of modern supported soles may simply be making our feet lazy. The foot is connected to every part of our energy system, and by removing the foot’s natural movement and the massaging action of walking, we’re essentially putting an essential part of our energy system in a cast and telling it not to move.

There is one further level of benefit from the natural world, a spiritual one. To be in touch with something that was before us and will endure after our physical death is powerful. We are meant to interact with nature, hence the power of activities like walking and gardening for our mental health. Above all, we are intended to appreciate and give thanks for the beauty of nature- and to give thanks, to appreciate beauty, is one of the best things, according to the Law of Attraction, that we can possibly transmit.

~Dr. Symeon Rodger 🙂


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