Outdoor exercise has positive effects on the human psyche and body. That said, it makes a difference whether you are out and about in the city or amid nature. Dr. Arnulf Hartl from the Institute of Ecomedicine at Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg explains why.
After an entire day out in the fresh air, you generally feel much better than after a day spent in an enclosed space – both mentally and physically. There are several reasons for this. In nature, it is easier for people to escape, relax completely and recharge their batteries. These positive psychological effects have evolutionary roots.
For example, the sound of flowing water soothes us. “Or a tree signals safety, since it represents a potential safe refuge for us”, elucidates Dr. Arnulf Hartl from the Institute of Ecomedicine at Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg. Blood pressure drops and our resting pulse rate also decreases in the natural setting.
Our pulse increases again as we exercise in nature. This strengthens the cardiopulmonary system, as it does our muscles. Especially when we get away from the surfaced pathways. “An uneven forest path or a sandy beach does far more for our muscles and coordination than a paved footpath in an urban environment. Fortifying both even more”, says Dr. Hartl.
And exceptionally healthy, though not particularly popular with many people, is walking downhill. “This is a very natural form of eccentric strength training.” And if you want to take your performance to new heights - in the true sense of the word – you will definitely want to head into the mountains. There, the higher UV radiation not only increases metabolism, it also boosts the number of red blood cells.
Dr. Arnulf Hartl is currently conducting research in Algund/Meraner Land into the effects of two different kinds of climate therapy (klimatherapie.eu). In April 2020, in collaboration with Christina Geyer, he published the book “Heilkraft der Alpen” (“Healing Power of the Alps”).