We know first hand the benefits of skating and learning in nature, and is the reason we have chosen to create beautiful, calming locations for our skateboard lessons, workshops and residential retreats. We have found our guests progress faster with time to relax and focus amongst the trees, away from busy streets and loud noises.
Don’t just take our word for it, findings on green exercise speak for themselves. The advantages of exercising in healthy, natural environments go way beyond the benefits of exercising at indoor locations, and even city streets. Green exercise delivers physical, mental and spiritual benefits and has positive effects on health, well-being and even athletic performance.
Studies have shown that people who exercise in green spaces show a reduction in a variety of symptoms of distress and interpersonal difficulties, reduced pain, greater motivation and an increased sense of purpose. These benefits have been found to continue after the exercise session!
Here are our favourite 5 benefits of skating outside in green spaces…
1. LOWER STRESS LEVELS
Environments with green views, trees and plants have been proven to lower stress levels and reduce anxiety disorders. Those who exercise outdoors with green views have been shown to have significantly reduced cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone released in the body in response to stress and is responsible for triggering the flight or fight response as part of our human survival mechanism. When cortisol levels are lower, we feel calmer.
As part of ‘psycho-evolutionary’ theory, it has been proposed that “nature may allow psychophysiological stress recovery through innate, adaptive responses to attributes of natural environments – such as spatial openness, the presence of pattern or structure, and water features.” The theory proposes that the perception of these characteristics trigger positive emotional reactions related to safety and survival.
2. IMPROVES MOOD AND SELF ESTEEM
Researchers found that green exercise is actually needed to improve mental health states. The greater the time spent doing green exercise, the greater the improvements in both self-esteem and mood, and even brief times engaging in green exercise showed improvements in mental health.
These effects were greater in those who suffered with ill mental health, for instance, depression. Researchers think that this may be down to a combination of the physiological effects of being outside in nature, as well as participation in social activities and engagement with others.
3. LOWER PERCEIVED EXERTION
Calming , visual distractions allow us to skate harder and for longer, with a lower perceived exertion rate. When we are in beautifully distracting environments, we don’t notice how hard we are actually working!
In one study, researchers examined performances by athletes in four locations rated for greenness. Data showed that greenness predicted performance: A majority of athletes achieved their best performances at the greenest sites.
4. REDUCED PAIN & EFFECTIVE RECOVERY
Calming, natural environments can have important ‘restorative’ qualities and help to promote recovery from mental and physical stresses. Physical activity outdoors and contact with nature can help to protect against future stresses and aid mental concentration.
Also, when you are in these green environments, you are being exposed to environmental microbiomes, phytoncides (antimicrobial plant compounds), negative air ions, natural sights and sounds, and sunlight – all of which have led studies to conclude that exercising outside in green spaces can help you to cope with pain.
Sensory stimulation from green outdoor environments awaken present moment awareness and a sense of play, as well as feelings of connection with nature and the friends we’re sharing that outdoor time with. Trees, plants, flowers and birdsong help us feel relaxed and encourage mindfulness.
These are just our top picks but there are LOADS more benefits to skating in green spaces; including improved attention & concentration, enhanced mood & happiness, enhanced self confidence, reduced pain sensations, and improved quantity (and quality) of sleep!
For your skating performance in particular, studies have identified the following advantages when athletes train and compete in green spaces:
- Enhanced performance
- Increased satisfaction
- Less tension, confusion, anger and depression
- More feelings of being refreshed, restored and revitalized
- Better “optic flow” (a cue for assessing fatigue and exertion) resulting in athletes working harder than they physiologically perceive themselves to be working.
Of course, it’s all about balance – street spots and indoor skateparks are some of the most fun places to skate, and we also must remember to support our local indoor parks – they are the lifeline of our scene during the winter months and deserve a visit all year round.
However, if you’re feeling a little stressed or overwhelmed with life, sometimes a skate amongst the trees is all you really need!