Why Do We Need Adventure?
Here’s a question: do we really need to physically interact with nature?
I mean, couldn’t we get the same (or at the very least similar) health benefits from simply observing it passively or from exposing ourselves to it from the back of a tour bus say, or from a visual-reality headset?
The simple answer is no, we don’t NEED to physically interact with nature; after all, millions of people live their lives in urban landscapes, filled with technology, artificial light, and convenience food and rarely set foot in a park.
But is that conducive to optimal health and well-being?
In fact, recent research has shown that both men and woman who work night-shifts over extended periods of time are at risk of reduced fertility levels because of interference with their circadian rhythm, causing their hormones to fluctuate.
So even if we are satisfied to exist in man-made environments, we really do need to stay in touch with where we came from, our origins, our true selves. But then, there are so many things we need to do which we don’t, and so many more things we should yet we won’t!
Obviously, we are part of this world but as we advance as a species, it seems the idea of simply being a mammal just isn’t sophisticated enough for us. We think of ourselves as beyond that. When many of us conceptualise Nature, we see it as something separate, something foreign and alien and we usually do everything we can to disconnect from it. Whether it be through the rubber soles on our feet or the food we eat, or the walls in which we reside, less and less time is spent interacting with nature. And this leads me nicely to my own personal bug bearer, touch! While working in manual therapy I came to appreciate the importance and power of human touch and I started to realise just how little we actually touch each other on a daily basis and we should be doing more of it (in an appropriate, respectful way of course). I hug everyone, and yes, I can feel how uncomfortable and unnatural this is to so many people but in social groups among the animal kingdoms, mammals are constantly touching and grooming one another. Staying physically connected is vital. But, we have evolved. Our societal groups have changed but somewhere deep inside we still yearn to connect and now contact sports help bridge the gap between our primal needs and our modern-day living circumstances.
There is something special about physically connecting with someone, a worthy opponent, something that you don’t get out of training on your own. Appreciating this, we can look at the natural environment in the same way. Sitting in your car, looking out at sea can provide a lot of pleasure and contemplative reverie. But, taking off your shoes and walking barefoot across the sand will ground you in a much more powerful way – there is a lot of research that exemplifies the effects of walking barefoot. It’s this real and measurable interaction and immersion with nature that stimulates the senses and improves a person’s health and wellbeing. From lowering stress levels, reduction in depression symptoms to improved cognition for children with attention deficits, the great outdoors is the hands-down winner.
It’s our mission at Wild AWay, to incentivise people of all abilities to get out there and enjoy the outdoors. Rediscover and actually recognise themselves as being part of a world full of uncomplicated joy through living and breathing every now and again in nature.