#NatureIsCalling: Week 1 of the 30 day challenge

It’s the 30 x 30 challenge this month and I’m taking part.

What’s it all about? You can read more here.

Want to get healthier, happier and smarter? Add a daily dose of nature to your routine.

Each spring, the David Suzuki Foundation challenges Canadians and people around the world to join the 30×30 Challenge by spending 30 minutes a day in nature for 30 days.

Nature is calling! Sign up for the 30×30 Nature Challenge today.

Most of us spend too much time in front of screens and little time outdoors. It’s time for us all to get outside. During the month of May, we’re asking everyone to pledge to spend 30 minutes in nature every day for 30 days.

Over the past three years, the 30×30 Challenge has inspired tens of thousands of individuals and hundreds of workplaces and schools to cultivate the nature habit. They took to the great outdoors, doubling their time spent outside. Our research showed that participants were sleeping better, felt calmer and less stressed. Impressive results for a half hour a day!

Join us in taking the 30×30 Nature Challenge, so we can reap nature’s benefits together. See you outside!

Register here for the 30×30 nature challenge in French.

PS: Don’t forget to share your stories and photos with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #NatureIsCalling. Photos will be entered into a weekly contest for great prize packages from Genuine Health!

Here’s how I’ve done so far:

May 1: bike commute to work on the riverside pathway

May 2: bike club ride through the countryside around London

May 3: bike ride and spent the day in beautiful Springbank Park marshalling a bike race

May 4: neighbourhood run plus lots of outdoor time playing with new puppy

May 5: first challenging day, spent the morning at CrossFit, but got outside for a “walk” with our new puppy later

May 6: house training a new puppy means you spend a lot of time outside!

May 7: coached bike ride, speeding through the London countryside

And it turns out it might just be better for me, spending all this time outside. See Sorry, gym rats: Why exercising outside may be better for your health:

Exercising in nature has benefits that go above and beyond the benefits you gain by exercising indoors. Research has shown improvements in mental well-being, self-esteem and can even help with depression. This might be especially important for that moody teenager in your life, and it also explains why my wife kicks me out of the house to go on a trail run when I’m stressed out from a crazy day at work. I’ve found that trail-running seems to help me decompress much better than running on a treadmill or even on city streets, and the research backs this up as well. Being exposed to plants decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, decreases resting heart rate and also decreases blood pressure.

These studies are really interesting because we often think of exercise as only being good for our bodies. It turns out that exercise can be just as good for our brains and our minds, and that getting outside and exercising in nature might amplify the benefits.

One of the challenges that we are faced with is staying motivated to exercise. About half of people who join a gym don’t stick with it beyond the first year. But people who exercise outside tend to stick with their exercise programs more consistently than those who train indoors, according to a study done in 2004. So if you’re having trouble being consistent, consider adding an outdoor workout to your routine.

Another surprise benefit of getting outside and into nature is that exposure to plants like trees can improve your immune system. Scientists think that airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect themselves from fungus, bacteria and insects (these chemicals are called phytoncides) may also benefit humans. In a study published in 2007, people who took two-hour walks in a forest had a 50-per-cent increase in the levels of their natural killer cells. They sound scary, but they’re your cells that circulate through your body and kill bacteria, viruses, fungus and other invaders.


I’m hoping to do some trail running this spring and summer. I’ll let you know how it goes and report back.

Past posts on exercise and the great outdoors:


Philosophers riding bikes through the park!
Philosophers riding bikes through the park!