The reality for most of us in today’s modern world is to travel from one box to the next. We sleep inside, we eat inside, we step into our cars and drive to the office, we drive home from the office, finish our day relaxing around the house and do it all over again. Our modern lifestyle has developed to the point where going outside has become an “option”. A whole week may come and go without ever being in the fresh air. What effect will this have on our health and wellbeing?
Intuitively we all know the benefits of the fresh outdoors, including the beneficial effect of natural sunlight and reconnecting with nature but here’s one to think about … the beneficial effect of negative ions.
Ions are molecules that have gained or lost an electrical charge. They are created in nature as air molecules break apart due to sunlight, radiation, and moving air and water. The proportion of negative ions is highest around moving water (storms, oceans, rivers, waterfalls). It’s no wonder that we feel so energized at the beach.
Positive ions rob us of our good senses and disposition, and are found indoors where a TV or computer monitor is operating; indoors and outdoors where warm, dry winds blow; and wherever air is polluted.
Negative ions are found in places like the beach, the mountains, in the country and near waterfalls. Once they reach our bloodstream, they are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy.
Over 5000 medical and scientific studies utilizing negative ion generators have been done to support this theory, including those by Oxford University, the U.S. Air Force, RCA Laboratories and Mercedes Benz.
“Generally speaking, negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain, resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy,” says Pierce J. Howard, PhD, author of The Owners Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind Brain Research. “They also may protect against germs in the air, resulting in decreased irritation due to inhaling various particles that make you sneeze, cough, or have a throat irritation.”
So, how about making it your central focus this week to get out and about, and enjoy being active in the fresh spring air. This weekend make the effort to go for a bushwalk, kayak, a bicycle ride around the park, run on the beach, swim in the surf, horse ride, rock climb or whatever else inspires you to increase your exposure to negative ions.
If you work in an office, how about going for a walk in your lunch break in a nearby park, around the harbor or by the beach to help clear your mind and improve energy levels for a more productive afternoon.
Personally, my favourite weekend ritual is a run on Bondi Beach early on Saturday and Sunday morning. It’s a beautiful way to start the day watching the sun rise, breathing in the fresh sea air, and feeling the sand and salt water between my toes, as well as getting my fix of negative ions. When I’m at work, I make the effort to take regular breaks from my computer by getting up and going for a walk outside in the sunshine, to help recharge and refresh my mind.
What are your favourite ways to enjoy the outdoors?
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