Nature and physical activity
MOVEMENT is one of Enrich’s core pillars, often, exercise can be framed as solely a way to sculpt our body, or to ‘make up’ for something we feel we should not have eaten. However, there is much more to movement than this hard, punitive approach. We want to help you incorporate movement into your everyday life, something to look forward to and enjoy rather than a punishment. Movement can create a feeling of wellbeing within our body, adding a sense of connection and accomplishment that has nothing to do with aesthetics. Embracing movement for its own sake can even help us to actually want to increase its frequency, which can have incredible benefits for our overall wellbeing.
With that in mind, our Enrich theme for the month is Open. Can you open your mind and consider a fresh perspective and a new way of thinking about exercise? We are asking you to reframe previous experiences and consider how can movement add to your life.
Connecting with nature and fresh air is a fantastic way to get movement into your day, as well as creating a host of other health benefits which can really add to our overall wellbeing.
Resetting our circadian rhythm
Our circadian rhythm can also be called our internal body clock, or our biological rhythm. It involves a series of natural changes within the body – such as the release of certain hormones – that follow a 24-hourcycle. It helps with many different behaviours, such as falling asleep at night, waking up in the morning and regulating our appetite. Usually, these hormones are released in response to light and darkness. While there can be variation depending our overall lifestyle and genetic factors (including if you are an early bird or a night owl), our bodies generally run on similar schedules.
As this internal rhythm is linked to many of the processes that occur within our body, we can feel the effects if that rhythm gets thrown off schedule. Disruptions can cause problem with our appetite, digestion and even our immune system. This can happen if, for example, we are exposed to too much artificial light at night time or eat very late.
One way that has been suggested can help shift our circadian rhythm back on track is to get outside in the morning. By taking a short walk, we can increase our exposure to the natural sunlight and signal to our body that it is time to wake up and start the day.
Getting that vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, found in small amounts in foods such as oily fish and red meat. However, it is also called the ‘sunshine vitamin’ as our bodies synthesise it when exposed to the UV rays in sunlight. It is vital for our health and wellbeing as it helps to regulate the body’s calcium and phosphate, which helps us to maintain strong bones, teeth and muscles.
Spending between 5 to 15 minutes exposed to midday sun, two or three times a week, is sufficient for our bodies to make enough vitamin D.
Nature and mental wellbeing
The benefits of being in nature on our overall wellbeing are well documented. Taking part in activities such as walking, cycling or horse-riding have been shown to enhance our mood, improve our capacity for attention and increase our self-esteem. It has also been shown that regularly participating in physical activity outdoors can help to reduce mental health problems, such as feelings of stress, anxiety or depression. It can help us to feel more connected to the natural world, as well as people around us, leading to overall improvements in wellbeing.
Why not get out into nature and try a new walk this month? Open yourself up to the beauty of our natural surroundings and experience these health benefits at the same time.