A Walk Outside

The Indiana sun can be very deceiving. As we enter spring here in central Indiana, the sun has been shining bright. The bright rays excite my young girls. Some days, they dash outside only to realize that the sun is definitely present but the temperature of the air is still in the low 40s.

The chirping birds, the budding trees, and an 8 year old spend the days reminding me of that we are entering a new season.

Although this winter has been mild, we have all been inside hibernating for months. We want to get outside!

One morning this week, the sun was shining bright. The girls were ready for serious play. They packed furry friends in bags to take outside for a day of animal school. We put on shoes and all of the lovies were ready. Once we stepped outside we experienced the truth of the weather situation. It was a blustery day! The wind made the already cool temperature feel even colder. Animal school only lasted for 10 minutes then everyone hustled back inside to warm up.

The sun takes hours to warm the air of these early spring days. We have a walk around the neighborhood planned for after lunch. We added this walk to our daily rhythms since the “Shelter in Place” order has taken effect. The temperature outside is has warmed slightly but we still need our winter coats some days, but the outdoors are a welcomed break from being inside.

Fresh air, sunlight, nature are free resources that improve the our health. These elements have been shown to improve our physical and mental health. We were made to enjoy the fresh air and sunlight.

Have you ever stepped outside and noticed the your mood improved?
Or walked around the block of your neighborhood after a frustrating conversation and experienced more mental clarity afterwards?

We were made to enjoy the fresh air and sunlight.

Melissa Miller

After my youngest daughter was born, the afternoon sun would catch my eye. Being mom all day to 3 very small children was a different kind of stress than I had ever experienced before. From the time their little eyes opened it was all my attention; all my energy. It was like pressure building inside me all day long. But then, as I would open the door to our backyard relief from the pressure would begin to dissipate. The cool, early spring air was like someone letting the air out of a balloon. And, as I stepped my foot out the door on to the deck full release throughout my body as I took that first deep breathe. The feeling was miraculous. I would stand there for a few minutes breathing in and out. A worship-worthy moment.

A worship-worthy moment.

Melissa Miller

Each day, during that season of my life, I would feel pulled outside for that pressure relief.

The girls would step out side to ask, “Why are you out here?”
I replied “I need some fresh air. It makes me feel better.”
I think they could see the evidence reflected in me, even though they were so young.

Why was this apparent?
Each deep breath I was taking, increased the concentration of oxygen in my blood, decreased my heart rate, and decreased my blood pressure. The relaxation of my body would then signal the release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone that is directly related to our mood. Each deep breath resulted in relief from stress, anxiety, pressure.

Not only does the fresh air cause us to take deep breaths, but the sun also decreases stress, showing an improvement in mood with time spent in direct sunlight. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient we get from the sun. Lacking in vitamin D can result in increase tiredness, depression, immunodeficiency, bone loss, hair loss, muscle pain. Vitamin D is most readily absorbed in our bodies from the light rays of the sun.

I always knew there was a reason why we Hoosiers longed for sunny, beach days in the spring. Our bodies are looking for help in getting these vital nutrients.

What can you do today?

Don’t put your winter coat away yet. As much as you are looking forward to putting your winter coat away for the year, wait. Especially if you live in a place like Indiana where the temperature varies from day to day. Having a warm clothing will make you more likely to spend time outdoors even when the sun is deceptive and the temperatures are cool.

Go on walks. Plan this activity into your days. We like to go for a walk around the neighborhood midday, even when it is still cold outside. This gives us a break from the house since we are all here together as we “Shelter in Place.”

Walking is a great activity for any season, but particularly this time of year. Because the wind is cool, the movement of your muscles increases of your blood flow helping warm your body temperature. This allows us to enjoy the bright sun rays even though we may be all bundled up.

Physical activity is beneficial to obtain and maintain a healthy weight but it is also beneficial to the mental health as well. Just as deep breathing increases oxygen, activity also increases oxygen along with other benefits that support your body as a whole. Activity, such as walking, also strengthens muscles and maintains mobility.

If you are feeling cooped up from the cold temperatures, or you are under a “Shelter in Place” order now would be a great time to implement short walks multiple times a day into your schedule. Frequenting the out side spaces might inspire a game of hopscotch or four square with your kids. You may even begin to notice the steady progression of flowers from peaking through the cold ground to blooming in the sun. A beautiful sight to notice!

A beautiful sight to notice!

Melissa Miller

Spring in Central Indiana, the morning air is crisp and invigorating, the midday temperatures are cool and refreshing, and the afternoon weather is warm and inviting. The constant change is a great reminder that fresh air, sunlight, and nature are good for our body and soul.

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