+44 (0)785 5567 563 laura@lauragilchrist.co.uk

4 reasons to try health coaching while walking in nature

Photo by John Mark Arnold

One of my favourite places to be is in the woods. The woods are my anti-depressant and I know when I’ve missed a week because I feel lousy. In this post I share with you more of my personal story and my reasons for developing a walking health coaching practice.

 

1. Boost your energy and immunity

 

When I was recovering from burnout and post-viral fatigue, I found the prospect of exercise totally overwhelming. I barely had the energy to get through each day and collapse into bed at 8pm, let alone adding in anything else. “I just can’t do it”, my mind told me.

 

In my pre-kids days I had enjoyed jogging, but I knew that was out of the question. You might as well have told me to go and climb Everest.

 

And at the same time I knew that exercise is vital to health and that not moving wasn’t going to help either. I was in a dilemma.

 

With the support of my coach I realised that I’d been setting the bar way too high for myself. In my mind, it was either ‘go for a jog’ or nothing.

 

I decided to try something that would feel manageable and enjoyable. I set myself the task of starting each day with a 15 minute walk in the woods. Just 15 minutes for the first couple of weeks. Gentle walking, not marching.

 

I was amazed at what a difference this made to my mental health and wellbeing after just two week. I knew I was onto something.

 

As I regained energy, I slowly built up the length time I walked for. And the pace. Now, I go walking in the woods for an hour three times a week. I consider it essential to my self-care and sense of overall wellbeing.

 

I had been doing this for a few years when I heard about the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku or ‘forest bathing’. Since the 1980s, the Japanese have encouraged walks in the woods and ‘bathing’ in the power of nature for prevention of ill health.

 

In fact, it has become an integral part of their healthcare system. Research has shown that spending time among trees boosts our immune systems, reduces blood pressure and speeds up recovery after illness or surgery.

 

It all made sense now.

 

By this stage I had re-trained as a health coach and I thought, why not offer health coaching while walking?

 

If this is something you’re curious about, here are some more reasons why it’s so valuable.

 

2. Your time is squeezed and it’s hard to fit it all in 

 

You’re super busy with loads to fit in, so why not have time in nature, get some gentle exercise and be coached all at once? It’s a win-win.

 

I accompany my clients on a walk whether or not we’re in the same place. We get kitted out for all weathers, use our mobiles with earphones and off we go. You just need the right equipment and a decent mobile reception.

 

Many of the people I coach in this way choose to spend an extra 20-30 minutes before or after our session and do the true ‘forest bathing’ experience. This involves slowing right down and experiencing the magic of being amongst the trees with all your senses.
They put their phones away, take in the natural environment and just have a bit of down time.

 

 

3. Commit to be there and you’ll do it 

 

Let’s be honest, who wants to go out for a walk when it’s a cold, grey, drizzly day in the middle of winter? However, if you’d said to your coach that you will show up, it’s much harder to bail out of it at the last minute! This is true even when coach and client are living in different places and are connecting over the phone.

 

Being coached while walking takes the accountability to another level.  

 

There is also a power in the physicality of moving while working on making changes in your life. Coaching is all about getting from the stuck place where you are now to a much freer open space that is completely different. I believe that walking in nature provides a powerful metaphor for this and helps with the process of retraining our brains.

 

There is also a power in the physicality of moving while working on making changes in your life. Coaching is all about getting from the stuck place where you are now to a much freer open space that is completely different. I… Click To Tweet

 

4. You will feel calmer, less stressed and happier 

 

This is a bold claim, I know. It’s not just my own personal experience though, it is also backed up by scientific research. In one study a direct link was found between lower stress levels and regular time in green spaces. Just being in nature really does reduce stress.

 

Another study compared those walking in the city with those walking in a woodland. The people walking in the woods had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

 

When you have less cortisol circulating in your system, you feel calmer and less stressed.

 

 

In addition, when you get outside in the morning or the middle of the day, it helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle called your circadian rhythm. This is responsible for depth of sleep, alongside many other bodily functions.  You can even track this rhythm and see what impact the time in nature and the walking has on you.

 

So if you want to feel more calm, healthier and generally better, try getting out to the woods more often. And why not be coached while you’re there? It must just change your life. If you’re curious about this idea but not sure, why not try out a free 20min walking health coach session with me here?

 

If you want to feel more calm, healthier and generally better, try getting out to the woods more often. And why not be coached while you’re there? It must just change your life. Curious? Why not try out a free 20min walking health… Click To Tweet

References

Visit Us On LinkedinVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Instagram