By Pauline Cox MSc, Functional Nutritionist, co-founder of low carb specialist Sow & Arrow and author of Hungry Woman, foreword by Julia Bradbury.  @paulinejcox

Many of us know that going for a walk is a good idea, that it’s a simple way of keeping us fit and well, however, increasing levels of evidence is emerging which reveal that getting out doors isn’t just good for us, it’s an essential pillar for our optimal health and longevity.

There are SO many benefits to going for a walk, from a better night sleep, improved mood to lower levels of inflammation. Here are my top five reasons for getting more green into our lives… step this way to learn more!

Hungry Women

1. A good night sleep starts in the morning

Yes, really! A good night sleep starts in the morning. How we start our day has a big impact on how our day ends, whether it’s with some sound shut eye, or tossing and turning all night. When we step outside in the morning, the daylight enters our eyes and helps our body to build serotonin, our feel-good hormone. This clever little hormone turns into melatonin as the end of the day approaches. Melatonin is our sleep-deeply hormone. So optimal levels of serotonin helps to create a great night sleep.

2. Walk this Way

When we step outside, we are activating many muscles in the body, including our lovely chunky leg muscles. These hungry muscles use up a lot of the sugar from our bloodstream. This is good news for our body as high blood sugars are linked with premature aging and chroic diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Keeping our muscles active, helps to mop up blood sugar, keeping our metabolic health in tip top shape.

3. Good Gut Feeling

Being outdoors is good for your gut health! Yes, really! When we are meandering through a meadow or strolling alongside a stream, the air we breathe is teeming with beneficial microbes that we are introducing to our body. These friendly bacteria work in synergy with the body, supporting our immune system and keeping inflammation in check. Deep breath in…aaaaand out.

4. AWEsome

Recent research has shown how the emotion of awe lowers our inflammatory levels! As human beings we are hard wired to seek out awe, to be left in wonder by things that inspire us. Nature is an area that humans find a source of awe. So next time your wondering through a woodland and feel a deep sense of awe, remember, it’s having a fantastic impact on your inflammatory levels too!

5. Soothes the Nervous System

We often know we feel better when we’ve spent time outdoors, but did you know that this is not just a placebo effect. In fact the science is really quite fascinating! When we walk, jog or run, the forward moving motion directly impacts the part of our brain concerned with fear, the amygdala. It calms and overstimulates amygdala, reducing anxiety and leaving a sense of calm. The act of walking daily in nature can help to create a deep sense of wellbeing, calm and peace.

With so many reasons to step outside and enjoy a daily dose of green therapy, making time for a walk a day is a simple way to support your mental health as well as longevity.

To learn more about simple ways to optimise your health, purchase Pauline’s latest book, Hungry Woman, Eating for good health, Happiness + Hormones.

Hungry Women