Five reasons why you should explore outdoors with Forest Holidays

Bluebells in Sherwood (2)

The team at Forest Holidays are experts in offering an escape from the stresses of everyday life in the idyllic surroundings of Sherwood Forest. Here they describe how a dose of fresh air is a great way to stay healthy. 

Most people believe that the outdoors is good for us. Now a raft of research proves that time out in nature is essential to our physical and psychological health and well being. Nottinghamshire has plenty of great outdoor spaces, including the magnificent Sherwood Forest so there’s no excuse not to get out and enjoy the fresh air!

Lose yourself in the beautiful Sherwood Forest

Lose yourself in the beautiful Sherwood Forest

We’ve long known that a breath of clean air works wonders on our respiratory systems and that sunlight generates vitamin D – the vitamin essential to healthy bones.  However, an increasing amount of research from around the world is revealing why time immersed in the natural world is essential to the healthy functioning of our minds and bodies.

1. Nature makes us more creative: According to David Strayer, a professor of Cognition and Neural Science at the University of Utah, modern day life over-taxes brain areas that suppress distractions and enable us to think creatively ad develop a sense of identity. Strayer discovered that a mere four days backpacking in nature improved people’s creativity by fifty per cent.

2. Nature sounds good: What we listen to has a huge impact on our health and well-being. Studies undertaken by leading sound expert Julian Treasure, chairman of the Sound Agency, reveal the benefits of natural sound, as well as silence. An example Treasure cites is that humans find bird song reassuring. We intrinsically feel that all is good in the world if the birds are singing.

3. Nature smells good: Our sense of smell is closely linked to the parts of the brain responsible for processing emotion. The scents we inhale have an immediate and profound impact. Trees and plants emit phytoncides – a volatile organic compound and wood essential oil. Inhaling phytoncides slows down breathing and reduces anxiety. Residents of some east Asian countries take part in ‘forest bathing’ or Shinrin-yoku, an experience which allows us to be engulfed by, and breathe in, the healing powers of phytoncides.

Cycling in the forest (2)4. Children benefit from time outdoors: Michelle Obama has declared it her personal mission to get more children playing outside via her ‘Let’s Move Outside’ campaign, while US journalist Richard Louv, who studies the links between family and nature, has coined the phrase ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ in describing the growing disconnection between children and nature. The outdoors is a rich environment for young children to immerse themselves in. Whether they are climbing trees or threading a daisy chain, playing outdoors emphasises experience above technology. It boasts children’s fitness, development, confidence and fuels their imaginations.

5. Time outdoors is essential to healthy aging: Our world shrinks as we grow older and as it does all the physical, emotional and social benefits of the outdoors diminish in our lives. The connection between less time outdoors and the acceleration of dementia is considerable.  The authors of an Open University research paper entitled ‘The Impact of Early Dementia on Outdoor Life: A ‘Shrinking World’?  claim that ‘maintaining outdoor activity is likely to be an effective preventative measure in extending the period of good quality living’.

Have you tried these activities?

1. Slacklining: A balance sport involving walking and performing tricks on a loose, often flat line, strung between two solid objects

2. Art in open spaces: All ages can explore and be inspired by forest sculpture trails and site specific art in the outdoors

3. Foraging for wild food: Scouring nature to source your own food is on the increase, fuelled by reports flagging up the health benefits of eating wild

4. Geocaching: An outdoor treasure hunt in which players locate geocaches (hidden containers) and share their experiences online via GPS or smart phones

5. Bouldering: Ropeless climbing up large boulders, often by your finger tips, with a crash pad in place to cushion any falls.

Did you know?

A mature tree can produce 260 pounds of oxygen a year. That’s enough annual oxygen to support two people

People who walk on outdoor tracks feel better about themselves and the world than those who walk on an indoor treadmill

Book now to receive 10 per cent off a Forest Holidays break!

Forest Holidays is offering anyone who books a break before 31st December a 10 per cent discount. Simply use the code FHNOTTS13. For details on prices and availability visit the website.

Posted on 28 October 2013
Featured author: Catherine Allen Marketing Assistant

Arts fan, runner and cyclist who has been living in Nottingham for more than a decade. Loves real ale, craft beer, good food, travelling and sausage dogs.

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