GREEN GOAL #1
It’s not easy being green. I think we’ve all had our Kermit the Frog moments when it comes to living our best green lives. But, no worries. If we can make just one change at a time, before long, we will have changed not only ourselves but the world around us.
This year we want to help you make one positive green change at a time. So, every month we’re going to introduce a new green idea and help you follow through. By the end of 2022, you will have made 12 impactful green changes. We’re calling it our Green Goal Challenge. And our first green goal is green exercise. Let’s get green, Perksters!
What is Green Exercise?
So, many of you are already familiar with green exercise even though you may not have recognized it as such. In a nutshell, green exercise is simply any physical activity done in nature. The whole idea of green exercise started at the University of Essex in 2003. A team of specialists ranging in everything from environmental sustainability to physiology and behavior change, came together to research the effects of doing physical activity in nature, and green exercising was born. Their findings were phenomenal.
The Green Exercise Way of Life
We’ve all known that exercise can improve our physical as well as our mental wellbeing, but combine that with nature and you get a whole new life experience. The evidence is overwhelming. Green exercising leads to positive short- and long-term health benefits, like improved self-esteem and mood, especially in children.
And it doesn’t matter what kind of green environment you’re in. Forests, mountains, meadows, you name it, they all have the same positive effect on our health and well-being. However, according to the research, environments with water such as lakes, ponds, or oceans for example, generate even more of a positive effect on us.
“Preindustrial humans expend some 1000 kcal on activity per day, whereas for modern humans the mean is 300 kcal (6). Inactivity increases the likelihood of obesity and reduces life expectancy.”
Being in natural environments like sitting in the park, exercising in natural environments like walking on the beach or in the woods, or just looking at natural scenery from your window, all provide positive health benefits. “Improved immunity, lower blood pressure and potentially more restful sleep at night…” (Schroeder, 2017), are all byproducts of green exercise, according to Mike Rogerson, the research officer on the Green Exercise Research Team at the University of Essex.
“Wholesome exercise in the free air, under the wide sky, is the best medicine for body and spirit.” – Sarah Louise Arnold
Other studies agree. Exercising in nature, or green exercise, has incredible life-changing health benefits. It increases oxygen and vitamin D levels, relieves stress, provides better sensory stimulation, reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, and even boosts cognitive function in the brain.
Our planet, through its natural environments, has proven to provide a health oasis that we need for true longevity and a healthy, happy life. Obviously, without it we would not be able to live. But, how cool is it to know that it actually works with us and for us to this degree in such a powerful and simple way?
JUST DO IT!
You know the Nike saying, “just do it.” Get out there in nature and exert a bit of energy. It doesn’t take long or very much effort. Try something fun that you actually like doing. Or something new that you’ve always wanted to try!
One step at a time creates a change for a lifetime.
Go For a Walk in a Park, Meadow, or Garden
A brisk walk is one of the greatest forms of exercise. It has very low impact on the body, especially your knees, compared to jogging, and it can help maintain your health in unbelievable ways. Best of all, you can do it anywhere. One of my favorite places to walk is Norfolk Botanical Garden. So, grab a few friends, Perksters, and enjoy the scenery of a garden that is like no other. While you’re at it, you can take advantage of their incredible EnviroPerks reward, buy two tickets and get two free!
Yup, golf. For eons, it’s been a great way to not only score business deals but exercise as well. Places like Sleepy Hole Golf Course provide beautiful landscapes to get lost in while occupying your mind and providing a light workout. And, Perksters, if you purchase a green fee at the regular price you get the second player’s green fee free. We call that getting green on the green!
Pedal Your Way to Great Health
We absolutely love biking. Nothing takes you back to your childhood like hopping on your bike and rolling out. Open air with absolutely no cares. The Dismal Swamp Canal Trail is a great place to do just that while enjoying nature and all manner of wildlife.
Go Wild and Take a Hike
Speaking of wildlife, taking a hike in the woods is the ultimate green exercise. Add bird watching to your hike and now you have a real adventure! The melodic songs of birds in the air combined with the wonder of hiking in the woods bring harmony to the mind and body. And, once your adventure is over, you can enjoy these majestic creatures in your own backyard. An eco-friendly bird feeder from Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop is a great way to show your appreciation for all that nature does for you. Purchase a great bird feeder for 20% off with your EnviroPerks membership.
Yoga on the Beach
Yoga is a wonderful mind, body, and spirit exercise and when done on the beach it brings all the necessary elements together for green exercise benefits. You have the sand, the sun and the beautiful ocean guiding you to peace and serenity through nature while toning your muscles and calming your mind.
No Gym, No Problem. Work Out Outside
Are you a serious workout buff, or just an old school Double Dare fan? Lol. Well, take the road less traveled and try an outdoor obstacle course instead. It will definitely get you fit, and you’ll have loads of fun! Check out the Elizabeth River Outdoor Fitness Course on the Elizabeth River Trail. Get a more dynamic workout in nature that challenges you physically and mentally and take advantage of the free equipment. We double dare ya’!
Play Outside with Your Kids and Go on an Adventure
Adventure time equals fun time! And the positive effects of nature on children are incredible. This can be one of the best ways for the whole family to participate in green exercising. Try a treetop adventure, monkey drop, or ziplining at GO APE in Williamsburg, VA. These are all cool ways to bond with your kids in nature while getting some great exercise and creating fun memories too.
Rafting, Paddle Boarding or Kayaking
These are awesome green exercises. The rowing action offers an intense workout for your arms, and if paddleboarding, you get a great leg workout too. Not to mention, you’re surrounded by beautiful water. As a result, you get even more health benefits. Never been rafting, paddleboarding or kayaking? That’s ok, our friends at Riverside Outfitters are here to help! They are fanatics about the great outdoors and even offer Perksters $5 off their raft, kayak or paddle board adventure. Oh, Yeah!
You Can Do It!
These are just a few of the outdoor activities that will keep your heart pumping, your body strong, and your mind at peace. You don’t have to change everything overnight. Remember, Perksters, slow and steady wins the race. So, pick one green activity that you really like and see where it leads. If you keep it up, you will have added another green thing to your life, making this planet a little greener and the world a little better. And that’s the goal, right?