We never thought that being homebound for over 2 months with no jogging or leisurely walking allowed would make us develop an appreciation for the outdoors. All of a sudden I was clocking my steps through a shopping bag clasped around my shoulder as I made my way to the local supermarket to buy food. Walking seemed to be the only way to cope with the whole bunch of unknown that we were facing.
Several months later we are still dealing with adjusted levels, social distancing, death and curfews so to boost my love for walking I recently joined a Facebook hiking group. I have been totally blown away by the pictures people are sharing from their hikes. The routes vary from province to province and of course depending on who is on the hike, each has its own personality, and I am impressed at how everyone seems to be learning from each other regardless of race. Now you are most probably wondering why I’m bringing up such an arb consideration such as race, but this is South Africa unless you make a concerted effort not to focus on race it remains a defining marker used to determine how people interact with each other. In 1997 when I started hiking at school, hiking was largely dominated by white people who used it as a leisure activity to relax and enjoy nature. I found myself continuously as the only non-white person in these groups. Fast forward to 26 years later and I see how this pandemic has allowed non-white South Africans to really express their love for nature through hiking.
Being outdoors in nature has been encouraged over being in malls and closed spaces, “being outdoors reduces your chances of catching Corona” it seems this was the prompt that was needed because people have ventured out looking for spaces to go walking and enjoy nature. Straight of the bat you can see that people are really enjoying themselves, the smiles are huge, the sweat a great indication that they are having a good workout and the sharing of the time with others in a socially distanced and open space at least is allowing them to enjoy the benefits of being around other humans.
There are also other benefits that being out in nature presents, my favourite simply being it improves your mood, studies over the years have indicated that spending even as little as 20 minutes in nature is important for improving your mood and assisting you with getting in vitamin D from the sunrays allowing you to have a sunny disposition instead of feeling under the weather. Being outdoors also allows you to get fresh air, let your thoughts run free and inspire creativity.
I could go on all day, but I would love to hear what your experience has been with being outdoors whether you just recently started or have been hiking for a few years now.