There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the 40f7re2deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not man the less, but nature more. – Lord Byron

The beginning of a new year brings about new ideas, promises, and resolutions for everyone. We look online and research how we can better our lives, our relationships, our mediocre cooking skills, and ultimately ourselves. The answers and the solutions are as complicated or as simple as we make them. This year, resolve to keep things simple, get outdoors more, and trust that by doing so a lot of the complicated questions will be answered. Here are the top five reasons why you should follow our lead and make going outside a priority this year.

1. Physical health and wellbeing benefits!

For a lot of people “getting outside,” means getting fit, and while running, climbing, kayaking, and biking obviously burn calories, being out-of-doors can positively benefit us in unexpected ways. Scientific fact points to the idea that forests can strengthen your immune system and by spending just five minutes outside, we are guaranteed a better nights rest. Furthermore, soaking up the sun and getting your daily dose of Vitamin D helps in preventing heart disease, neuromuscular diseases, depression, and can restore your energy levels.

2. Strengthens relationships.

It is frequently mentioned that the most important relationship that we will have in our lifetime is the one we have with ourselves, and nature is the perfect setting to let this relationship flourish. The idea of camping alone can first sound strange and unappealing, but it can also be a wonderful way to get away from the distractions (both good and bad) that life so often throws our way. Getting outdoors also aids in the growing of our relationship with the natural world and can help us to be more compassionate and sensitive while relating to others.

_JWP8510_NewRiverGorge3. Reduces stress.

Natural environments are known stress reducers. Many people who use guided meditations choose sessions that describe in detail the walking about a natural setting while providing the appropriate background noise. A recent study done in Scotland proved that adults who lived in areas with the largest amount of green space had lower levels of cortisol and their self-reported feelings of stress were lower than those who spent more of their time in urban settings.

4. Increases intellect.

While there is so much to learn just by walking out your front door, it has been proven that hiking and breathing soil bacteria can actually make you smarter! Getting out there also stimulates creativity, memory, increases levels of serotonin, leads to an increased attention span, and enhances problem-solving skills. Outdoor enthusiasts rejoice!

5. Help you accept and conquer new challenges!

Being out in nature helps you build endurance in more ways than one, and the challenging situations that nature can provide you with, force you to you to pay less attention to boundaries and step outside of your comfort zone more often in your day to day life. Being outside for an extended period of time forces you to trust yourself more and lessens the habit of second-guessing.

Essentially, John Muir was right when he said “nature is a necessity” and going to the mountains (or whatever beautiful outdoor landscape you reside within) really is going home; not just for a few of us, but for everyone. This year make an effort to break away from the routine and get outside, whether you choose hiking, biking, climbing, fishing, running, or kayaking- just make sure to choose often.

-Genna @ ACK