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Health by Heidi

You deserve to feel great!

Heidi's World

Heidi's World

The Great Outdoors

Posted on December 14, 2015 at 3:15 PM

I love being outside.  I have always loved being outside.  Whether I am cycling or running or skiing or gardening or just sitting on the back deck watching the world go by, something about being outside just makes me happy.  I feel calm and energized at the same time.  I feel relaxed, grounded.  Any stresses I may be experiencing simply fade into nothingness.  I have often thought that if every single person on the planet spent more time outdoors experiencing the wonders of nature, this world would be a much happier, calmer, and peaceful place.  Turns out, I am not so far off in my thinking.

Researchers have started doing studies on the effects that nature or nature scenes have on people.  Across the board, the research is showing that people report feeling calmer and happier when in nature or when looking at pictures of nature.  This is in contrast to people reporting feelings of anxiety and lonliness when in a city setting or when shown pictures of a city.  Studies are also showing that being in nature releases the "feel good" hormone serotonin.  One study had subjects perform the same task twice, once indoors and once outdoors.  The subjects all performed better on the task when they were outside than when they performed the same task inside.  Hospitals are now jumping on board with the outdoor mentality by putting plants in patient rooms and creating green space outside patient room windows.  It seems that hospital patients recover quicker and require less prescription narcotics when they can see greenery in their rooms or outside their windows.

For those of us who are nature lovers, this research just proves what we have known for years.  Being outdoors just makes us feel better.  Now we know the physiological reasons why.  With all that serotonin running through our veins, we can't help but be happy!  Combine that with some exercise-induced endorphins, and you get the perfect "happiness cocktail."  But wait!  It gets even better!  The great thing about living in the Bitterroot Valley is that this place just BEGS us to get ouside.  The mountains, the rivers, the fresh air...it's all calling to us, all the time.  Whether it's hot and sunny or cold and snowy or somewhere in between, this valley was created for us to be out in it.  So let's get out there, get the serotonin flowing, and be happy!

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