Nature is so glorious! I LOVE all of the brilliant green colors produced when light shines through the leaves. But nature isn’t just beautiful to look at. It is really healing, relaxing, and rejuvenating. There is plenty of research that says that spending time in nature will benefit your health and well-being, including reducing cardiovascular disease, obesity, mood disorders, stress, inflammation, and even improve your immune system function! So, while I love yoga, I also really enjoy just getting out for a walk or a hike and taking in the beauty of nature. Breathing the fresh air, feeling the breeze and the sunlight on my skin, and just stepping away from everything for a few minutes each day can make a huge difference in how I feel.
Also, remember that all of the health organizations recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, and these recommendations come from decades of research proving that the benefits of exercise are real. These benefits are clearly proven for cancer survivors too, and maybe we can even benefit more than the average person. Not only will exercise make you healthier in body and mind, and help you recover from your cancer experience, but it will make you feel better as well. It doesn’t have to be anything special, and you don’t have to break any ground speed records to get the benefits. Any and all activity that gets your body moving and gets your heart and lungs working is great.
And if you can combine a little time in nature along with a little exercise, you’ll be benefiting from both. Maybe you practice yoga a few days of the week, and go for a walk in nature on the other days? Maybe you do some yoga in nature, or just throw in a yoga pose or two during your walk (I can’t help myself 😉 )? Even if you can’t easily get to a deep lush forest, any local neighborhood park, tree-lined street, or school ground with a little grass and a few trees will suffice. Maybe find a buddy who also wants to develop an exercise regimen, so you can encourage each other and help maintain that motivation. Create whatever schedule works for you, and just cultivate the habit so that it becomes a natural part of your day. Once you get into the routine, you’ll feel so good you’ll want to keep going.
Exercise and taking in a little nature are also great ways to help get our minds off of our cancer treatment or other life stressors. Just a little change of scenery can be the catalyst you need to help you begin to see things in a new light.
Of course if you are still in the midst of active cancer treatment, there will be times when you just don’t feel up to exercising, and we must be patient with ourselves. However, there is quite a lot of literature on exercise actually improving cancer-related fatigue. It seems counterintuitive, but if you feel up to it at all, getting your body up and moving actually helps you regain your energy and initiate a new positive cycle. Even just a short gentle walk around your backyard or around the block might be enough to help you turn the corner and bring your vitality back after treatment.
As always, see what works for you and listen to your body. You may need to explore a few different types of exercise before you find something that you really love. Keep an open mind. Maybe something you used to love doesn’t feel right, but something new will. But I really encourage you to try to incorporate some time in nature when you can. Let the beauty of nature nourish you, and its brilliant energy will surely make you smile. It does for me!