23 Feb 2021

Being active outdoors brings many benefits

Being active outdoors is the best kind of medicine for the mind, body and soul. 

Spending time in nature lifts our spirits. It is easier to exercise for longer when we are outside taking in our surroundings. It beats watching a TV screen in front of a gym exercise machine any day. We also get our daily dose of Vitamin D from sunlight. 

Being outdoors is good for our vision, especially when we are spending more time on digital devices.  

Walking in nature boosts our creativity and restores our ability to focus when we are having trouble concentrating at work. 

It also allows more time for reflection and valuing what is important, like our environment, relationships and the community around us. 

I know that staying active and spending time outdoors speeds up recovery from illness or surgery. It certainly contributed to shorter hospital stays and fewer complications after my serious car accident and two major surgeries. Regular activity improves our mobility, reduces aches and pains, and improves our sleep patterns.

My love of the outdoors was instilled at an early age.  Growing up, we were encouraged to be outside in all weathers – cycling to and from school, playing tennis and swimming regularly. 

One of my earliest memories is an older cousin, Peter, teaching me to swim in a nearby river. 

My outdoor activities have changed over the years. Tennis and jogging were replaced by sailing and motorbike riding. When responsibilities increased and work pressures mounted, swimming before work kept my life in balance. Then scuba diving opened up the joys of the underwater world. 

Lifelong friendships are forged through shared interests. Nowadays I enjoy the company of friends while walking, kayaking and e-biking, and sometimes just appreciate being alone in nature. 

Coming back to the present, over New Zealand’s summer we have had more freedom to travel and be outdoors, with less need to restrict ourselves because of keeping the Covid-19 pandemic out of the country. 

If you live in the northern hemisphere, with spring just around the corner and positive signs from the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, I hope you can look forward to more physical activity outside.

With cooler temperatures and shorter days on the way here in New Zealand, I will be layering up and weather proofing my gear to keep being active outdoors. 


Mary Somervell

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