Regenerate with Nature: The Healing Potential of Getting Outdoors

Regenerate with Nature: The Healing Potential of Getting Outdoors

In our modern era, responsibilities and habits of daily life often leave us tethered to indoor spaces. This prevalent indoor-centric lifestyle comes at a considerable cost, as the natural world, with its inherent healing properties, has in many cases become a distant acquaintance.  

In this article, we explore the profound benefits of venturing into deep nature and offer resources to consider when doing so. Whether walking in nature and exploring hiking trails is your preference, going camping for a few nights, or perhaps simply finding a place to sit while barefoot grounding, there are many ways to make being in nature a regenerative practice. 

Acknowledging Health Barriers to Accessing Deep Nature

Before diving into the details of this article, we want to acknowledge the challenges that pain, illness, and accessibility issues pose in accessing the natural world. At Functional Patterns, we are well aware that for many individuals these barriers can create significant hurdles, limiting the ability to get outdoors, let alone out to a more remote area. Whether you are currently experiencing life as a person who is bed-bound, limited by mobility issues, or going through other significant health challenges, we see you. In fact, this is why so many people who have been left behind by the health and fitness industry end up coming to us; They see the results of people who are experiencing limitations with various diagnoses (cerebral palsy, debilitating or chronic pain, dysautonomia, neurodegenerative diseases …) moving better and gaining greater independence. 

So whether you’re in a place in which it’s hard to imagine being physically able to get out into nature, or perhaps you know it’s feasible for you to do so but you are prone to aches or pains when you do, improving your movement is key. This article won’t go into all the details about how we can help you do that, instead we’d encourage you to check out the plethora of information on the Functional Patterns website, but know that you’re not alone if pain-free, easeful movement is a challenge for you. At Functional Patterns we work intentionally to help people of all ability levels to move better and with that, to improve the quality of their lives to be able to do things such as get out into nature. 


Deep Nature Benefits

At Functional Patterns our primary focus is improving human biomechanics, aka your movement, because we know how crucial this is for regeneration. However, health is not determined by one single factor; A myriad of components coalesce to create a functional human. This is why we call it Functional Patterns, not Functional Movement. We know improving human health requires taking a holistic approach to create balance in the body, as is, for example, shown in the pyramid below. These recommended protocols are based on studying nature’s priorities of what helps humans thrive:

Zooming in on the nature part of this pyramid, you will notice that there is a daily recommendation to get sun (natural light), implying time outdoors. It’s likely that the majority of us reading this article find ourselves residing in cities. Day-to-day outdoor experiences may only include brief walks between buildings or, more ideally, time exposed to nature spaces like parks or yards. While these urban outdoor spaces can contribute significantly to our well-being (possibilities for sun, walking in nature, barefoot grounding, gazing at trees, etc), it's equally crucial to recognize the importance of periodically venturing beyond city limits. This is why the pyramid also includes a recommendation for a monthly (or as frequently as you can do it) experience of a few days out in nature.

Sustained time in nature has a multitude of health benefits that span both physical and mental well-being. Here are a few key advantages:

  • Stress reduction and improved mood: Spending time in natural environments has been linked to reduced stress levels. Nature settings promote relaxation and help lower cortisol, a hormone associated with stress
  • Enhanced Immune Function
  • Better Sleep Quality: Spending time outdoors, particularly in natural light, can help regulate circadian rhythms and improve sleep patterns
  • Reduced Mental Fatigue/Increased Ability to Focus: Nature provides a restorative environment that can reduce mental fatigue and improve cognitive function
  • Lower Blood Pressure: Nature has a calming effect on the body, leading to lower blood pressure. This can contribute to cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of hypertension
  • Improved Respiratory Health: Breathing in fresh, clean air in natural environments can help reduce the risk of respiratory issues and improve lung function. You’re more likely to access better air quality outside of the city, such as in a forest where trees help keep the air clean.
  • Enhanced Vitamin D Levels: Exposure to sunlight in outdoor settings helps the body produce vitamin D, which is essential for bone health, immune function, and overall well-being.

(For reference to several studies that outline these advantages head here).

The unique benefits of immersing oneself in more expansive, natural landscapes, away from cities, offers a distinct and irreplaceable dimension to overall health. This can be paramount in enhancing physical and mental resilience.


How to Get Out into Nature

Planning for success when heading out into nature requires consideration of various factors to ensure a safe and rewarding experience. Begin by researching and selecting a destination that suits your preferences and skill level. Familiarize yourself with the terrain, weather conditions, and any regulations, reservations, or permits needed for your visit. Inform a trusted individual about your plans, providing details on your itinerary and expected return time for added safety. Keep a close eye on the weather forecast and pack accordingly. Essential items like water, snacks, a map or GPS device, a first aid kit, and appropriate gear, clothing, and footwear should be included in your checklist.


What to Do Once You're There

While out in nature, use it as an opportunity to enjoy time away from the common distractions of daily life, such as unnecessary time using technology. Try interacting with your surroundings as a scientist, observing the birds, animals, terrain or other unique features of the place.

While walking in nature, exploring hiking trails, or other physical activity can be good, it’s also valuable to balance that with time spent giving your body time to rest. No, we’re not saying that talking to a friend, listening to a podcast, or reading a book is bad, but we also encourage time spent “doing nothing.” That’s right, lay down on a blanket, rest by a body of water, or try other practices like simply sitting by a fire and allowing your eyes to adjust to natural light. An added bonus is to remove your shoes and use this time to get some barefoot grounding to soak up some of the benefits of time connected to the earth.


A Few Resources for Getting into Nature

Several resources can aid in planning for your time out in nature. Apps like AllTrails provide valuable information on hiking trails in your area. If you’re new to venturing out and feel more comfortable going with others, consider searching for Facebook groups, on Meetup, or REI Co-op sites to connect with like-minded individuals or to take an outdoor wilderness or FirstAid class to help build your confidence to get outdoors. For those interested in camping, exploring options through the Bureau of Land Management, county parks, state parks, or National Parks opens up a plethora of opportunities. And as mentioned earlier in this article, a key component to safety and enjoyment while in nature is being able to move well as you navigate these outdoor spaces. Plan ahead by working on your stability and strength as it relates to fundamental movements such as standing and walking. If you need help in covering these basics the Functional Patterns 10 Week Online Program is a great place to start. 



Acknowledging the barriers of pain, illness, and accessibility, we recognize that the need for immersion in nature is universal, reaching every individual regardless of their current challenges. At Functional Patterns, we understand that movement is a catalyst for regeneration, providing a pathway for everyone, irrespective of their abilities, to increase their possibility of experiencing the therapeutic benefits of nature. Whether it’s walking in nature, exploring hiking trails, or practicing barefoot grounding, make it a goal to embrace the healing potentials of getting outdoors.

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