Exercise anywhere is a good thing. Exercise everywhere is better. Physical activity in presence of nature, also known as green exercise, has a positive effect on mental health, and perhaps also on physical health, as new research unveils. We spoke to Allie Bendus about how she uses nature to improve athlete training. Find below, a practitioner's take on the experience of indoor nature activities, and the potential health benefits of nature inspired exercise.
Findings show that exercise in a natural environment may promote directed attention and social interactions, which may positively influence future exercise intentions. Curious on the subject, we interviewed Allie Bendus, founder and coach at Moto Athletic. Moto is a movement, mindset and natural rhythms company focused on helping athletes improve performance and optimise flow in sport and daily life. Keep reading below to learn more about the health benefits of performing physical indoor nature activities.
Your trainings include natural rhythms. What is that?
Natural rhythms is a unique Moto technique we use in our movement training with athletes/teams and is part of our broader research and development program that we implement to improve performance and optimise flow.
As athletes and humans, nature is an essential component to maintaining physical and mental health and keep ourselves functioning at optimal levels. With respect to our movement behaviour and nervous system, we all have natural rhythms that allow us to live, feel and perform our best. In many cases, the day to day lifestyle demands of being an athlete disrupt these rhythms, which can negatively impact health and performance. Our Moto technique works to restore, develop and strengthen natural rhythms, which helps maximise potential and improve how athletes perform.
With respect to our broader research and development program, we work with athletes and teams to integrate nature into daily habits, routines, and incorporate into indoor environments to benefit physical and mental health. We also use it strategically to create competitive advantages through its ability to effect the nervous system and variables, which are beneficial to recovery and performance.
How do you think nature inspired spaces contribute to better physical and mental health?
Nature inspired spaces can contribute to better physical and mental health in many important ways. It's a part of who we are as humans, and with increased time being spent indoors the disconnect can take a toll on our capacity to perform our best.
Because it has such a such powerful effect on our nervous system - even when we are unable to be outside having nature based products, designs, textures, visual images or even auditory sounds within our space can provide similar benefits (improved energy, recovery rates, relaxation, lower stress, mood boost, increased calm, focus), which can enable us to function optimally both in our physical and mental state.
How can we apply this principle to improve our fitness?
We can apply this principle to improve our fitness by harnessing the power of nature in a way that helps optimise our physical and mental wellbeing. In terms of our movement behaviour - working to restore some of our natural patterns (walking, running, climbing, jumping, crawling, rolling, squatting, bouncing, swinging, being barefoot etc) and rhythms our bodies were design to do, but often become disrupted by our sedentary lifestyle habits, can be extremely beneficial to keeping the body and mind healthy and operating at its best.
Additionally, when we are outside or in indoor spaces, which incorporate nature and natural elements it can create a more significant impact on the nervous system, improving our energy levels and ability to recharge our physical and mental state, which can help optimise whatever type of fitness training or workouts we are doing.
There is evidence that we report greater valence and enjoyment when exercising exposed to nature, however, more studies are needed to evaluate the effects of acute and long-term exposure to nature during exercise both in the general population, as well as in specific groups.
In the meantime, you can still count on surrounding yourself with nature indoors, as it has positive effects in our overall wellbeing and health that you can enjoy while performing any indoor activity.