With more than 54% of the world's population living in urban areas, getting closer to nature is more important than ever. Even if you live in the city, don't hesitate to recharge your batteries by walking in a park or creating your own green space.

There are many ways for our health to improve in contact with nature, both physically and mentally. Sporting or recreational, they are all equally effective.

Follow us on this outdoor journey!


The outdoors improves physical and mental health

Many studies have been conducted around the world to demonstrate the positive effects of exposure to nature. Researchers wanted to validate whether the feeling of well-being reported by people after (say) walks in the forest, could be supported by science. No doubt, the answer is yes!

In Quebec, the Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (SEPAQ) sponsored a study on this subject. The researchers examined 160 studies published over the past 30 years. The results are unequivocal.


The physiological benefits of being close to nature

The scientific results of the Quebec study clearly prove that immersing yourself in nature allows you to: 

  • Reduce heart rate
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Decrease sympathetic nervous activity (related to the stress response)
  • Increase parasympathetic nervous system activity (related to relaxation)
  • Reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels

 

 

We realize how important being close to nature is for everyone, especially seniors.

Spending 10 minutes a day in a natural environment provides noticeable benefits quickly. That is especially true for people who are not used to doing so. All the more reason to integrate this habit into your daily routine!

Imagining a walk in the woods gives us a better understanding of the elements highlighted by the studies. The leaves rustling in the wind, the river lapping, the wings of birds waving in the wind, the sun breaking through the branches, or our footsteps cracking dead leaves: All our senses are awakened! Special mention to blue and green, colors known to be relaxing.

Enjoying the physical benefits of getting outdoors not only means playing sports! Walking on a lawn or gravel path in a park tones muscles and improves balance.

Natural light allows the body to have enough vitamin D, which eventually synthesizes into calcium and prevents osteoporosis.

Of course, moving, especially in a natural environment, helps improve vascular health and prevent the onset of chronic diseases.


The benefits of the outdoors on mental health

How delightful it is to share moments with our loved ones in the heart of a magnificent landscape. Fortunately, Quebec is not lacking in this regard. The lakes, the natural parks, the St. Lawrence River, the mountains, and even the large urban parks such as the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City or Mount-Royal Park in Montreal, make us very lucky!

In the heart of nature, we forget our worries, are more attentive to what happens in our body. We reconnect.

What a great way to: 

  • Improve sleep quality
  • Improve mood
  • Reduce stress
  • Energize
  • Relax
  • Get together with friends
  • Fight against isolation


Sports to practice in nature

There are so many sports you can enjoy doing outdoors.

  • Try Tai Chi! This martial art, suitable for everyone, is practiced by the Chinese daily in the parks at the beginning of the day. Why not try it this summer?
  • Take out your Yoga mat, lay it on the lawn and practice your favorite asanas (postures) to the rhythm of your breathing.
  • As soon as the weather conditions are favorable, take advantage of the many lakes in Quebec to swim. The water is extraordinary for relaxing and toning your muscles gently.
  • Get a bike, a helmet and set out to discover Quebec's beautiful bike paths.
  • Walk, go with family or friends to explore the hiking trails.

 


Outdoor recreational activities


You don't have to play sports to enjoy the benefits of the outdoors. Here are some ideas for everyday activities accessible to everyone:

  • Gardening: Enjoy the pleasure of putting your hands in the soil, and the satisfaction of growing flowers or herbs, even on your balcony.
  • Fishing: This contemplative activity, practiced in a calm and serene environment, will fill you with joy. As a bonus, you can enjoy a good meal.
  • Fruit picking: Apples in the fall, berries in the summer, spend some time in the orchard.
  • Canoeing: You'll love this gentle activity on a lake, especially in natural parks. 
  • Picnic: Share a simple and tasty meal with family or friends.
  • Photography: Walk purposefully and take pictures of flowers, birds, or trees.
  • Contemplation of water: Science proved that spending time by the water (lakes, rivers) significantly reduces stress.

 

Regardless of the season, getting out into nature is an undeniable health benefit! Science has proven it: 10 minutes a day influences our physical and psychological health positively.

Summer is around the corner, and it's time to enjoy your favorite outdoor activity, whether it's a sport or a contemplative experience.

 

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Sources (most in French only):

https://www.fadoq.ca/reseau/activites/activites-physiques-et-sportives/marches-et-randonnees

https://retraiteadomicile.com/les-bienfaits-du-plein-air-chez-les-aines/

https://www.ontarioparks.com/parcsblog/pouvoir-de-guerison-de-la-nature-pour-les-aines/

https://retraiteadomicile.com/10-activites-de-plein-air-pour-les-aines/

https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2019/01/19/eveiller-ses-5-sens-dans-la-nature

https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2021/09/04/chemins-de-reconnexion-retrouver-lequilibre-grace-aux-bienfaits-de-la-nature

https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2021/07/10/la-nature-pour-alliee

https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2021/06/29/eteignez-vos-ecrans-et-allez-dans-la-nature

https://observatoireprevention.org/2021/07/08/les-bienfaits-de-la-nature-sur-la-sante-globale/

https://www.lapresse.ca/voyage/plein-air/2021-07-02/la-nature-c-est-bon-pour-vous.php

 

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