Another Reason To Hit the Fitness Trail!

Hi All!

My friend, Cindy Robinson, sent me a news article from the Globe & Mail and I thought I’d pass the highlights on to you.

It was written by Celia Milne and called “Why Exercising Outdoors is Better than Hitting the Gym”.

Now before I start, let me say that this article does NOT mean that I endorse skipping the gym altogether!! The gym is a great place to get everything done fast in one space and, as a Fitness Instructor (Cindy too!), I can’t help but have a soft spot for a good ol’ fashioned aerobics class. But there are some obvious advantages to being out-of-doors…

1. According to Dr. Alan Logan, a naturopath who is co-writing a book with Harvard doctor Eva Selhub, called Your Brain, On Nature: The Science of Nature’s Influence on Health, Happiness and Your Mojo,

“Green exercise represents a low-cost way to lower stress and recharge the mental batteries. The health implications extend from depression and diabetes to workplace stress and cognitive decline of older adulthood.”

Other researchers from all over the world agree and have been studying the phenomenon of “green exercise” for some time.

A British study published this year in the journal Environmental Science and Technology concluded:

“Exercising in nature afforded people a greater feeling of revitalization and positive energy, as well as decreasing tension, confusion, anger and depression.”

In another study, the cruel folks at theUniversity of Michigan intentionally tired out 38 students with a bunch of cognitive tests and then had them immediately take a 50-minute walk in nature or through the concrete jungle. Those who walked in green space, performed better cognitively than those walking the concrete.

The study suggests that maybe downtown office workers should be encouraged to find a small patch of nature at lunch to walk in to improve their cognitive function. (Of course, city planners need to do their bit too.)

And from the other side of the world, recent Japanese studies show similar results. One study published in the journal Public Health this year found that

“being in green space had a positive and measurable effect on both the nervous system and the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the saliva of subjects”.

Other Japanese studies have found benefits from “shinrin-yoku” or forest-air bathing plus walking. A study published in 2010 found that forest bathing trips actually boosted immune function and kept it elevated for as much as 30 days while another found it to be an effective treatment for diabetes.

Back here in Canada, Kim Bergeron, who is a PhD candidate at Queen’s University inKingston, says it best,

“If we are not around vibrant, living things, it affects our psychological, social and physical being.”

So the question is, Are YOU getting outside everyday? It’s summer, so it’s easy to say emphatically YES!! But what about when the winter turns cool and then cold?

Then it takes discipline and a commitment to our health. And that brings me to my final note:

I want to congratulate all of those people who participated in the Ottawa Race Weekend. Especially my good friends Fran and Val from Carleton who finished their first marathon in 4 hours and 22 minutes.  And Cindy Robinson did an amazing 2:08 on her 1/2 marathon.

 While the race happens in May, they have been out for months in all kinds of weather training. It looks like they’ve been training their brains, their spirits and their bodies all at once!!

To Your Health!


To view the entire article go to: 

The book written by Drs. Logan and Selhub will be available in the Spring of 2012 and published by John Wiley (Toronto).


About tracygagnon

Tracy’s life-long passions have intertwined to create an interesting career. Since childhood, Tracy has loved writing, public speaking and fitness. She graduated from Carleton University’s School of Journalism in 1986. Since that time, she has written for the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, created and written several newsletters, written award-winning technical manuals, as well as marketing materials, reference check reports, proposals and other materials. She has written for all levels of government, private industry and the not-for-profit sector on a variety of subjects. Throughout her life, Tracy has also found herself publicly presenting various types of information—from teaching small children to swim and adult fitness classes to presenting communication seminars and creative speeches (through Toastmasters International). In order to pull all her interests together, she created Inward Journeys in 1994. Her purpose was to help individuals and groups draw out their potential. She wrote programs on communication, teamwork, self-esteem and motivation. Each program was interactive and very often had a physical element to help participants internalize key points. Some of her experiential team adventures included: rock climbing, whitewater rafting, sailing and dogsledding. The final thread from childhood was a love of fitness, which was already manifest from the days of Participaction and flexed arm hangs (yuk!) to Inward Journeys and finally onto a new challenge at Carleton University. At 42 she became a fitness instructor at Carleton U—a dream she had had since she was 16! Eventually she was offered a full time contract position, where was able to finally put all of her skills to work as a writer, presenter and fitness enthusiast. She created the Fitness Now newsletter, the To Your Health blog, and taught fitness classes to people from all walks of life. After a year and a half, however, her contract wasn’t renewed and it was time to move on to a new adventure. Her passions have never dimmed and because of that Tracy has created a new fitness blog called Along the Fitness Trail. Please join her on her new adventure.
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2 Responses to Another Reason To Hit the Fitness Trail!

  1. Debbie Bentley-Lauzon says:

    Love the Blog Tracy !!
    As a relative ‘newbie’ in the whole fitness lifestyle (joined the local “Y” almost 3 years ago), found running, loved it and have completed 3 races and dropped over 24 pounds in the journey. I agree that no matter how low your mood is, or how bad your day was before heading out the door to ‘sweat it out’ you always feel much better afterwards.

  2. tracygagnon says:

    Thanks so much!
    Great to hear from you and thanks for sharing your achievements!! Congratulations!! I think I’m paraphrasing but someone once said something like, “Life can bring you down sometimes, but exercise will always bring you up!!”

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