We already know it’s good for us. But going outside may be more than instinctive. There’s a reason we feel so good when we move our bodies in the waters and hills outside and breathe in the fresh air.
And a Delafield resident and multi-sport amateur athlete has self-published a book to help explain it.
Anne Wall, who worked for the Olympics and Paralympics, was like so many of us 2½ years ago: When the pandemic shut things down in the spring of 2020, she went outside. And feel better for it.
“I knew I felt good, I knew I felt energetic. I didn’t understand the cascade of neurochemicals that are released,” Wall said. “Even just sitting by the water’s edge can relieve some of the stress we may have been carrying.
“Whether you do moving meditation, active sight silence, sports involvement, or whether you simply practice mindfulness through silence and nature – all of these things are health-promoting.”
For that reason, Wall wants us to continue paddling, biking and hiking outside.
Wall was born in Milwaukee and now splits her residence between Delafield and Montana. She was once the corporate secretary and a board member of the Pettit National Ice Center and spent most of her business career in branding and sports marketing with the Olympic and Paralympic movements. She was an Olympic torch bearer and a brand protection manager for the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, and she also worked at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
She takes part in a dozen amateur sports – the silent sports – all outdoors.
Wall began to formulate the idea for her book, “Awaken in Nature. Discover Your True Self,” during the early stages of the pandemic when being outside felt restorative to her physical and mental health.
“I’ve learned that if we look for the good in every situation, we can find it, and sometimes it’s very challenging to do that,” Wall said. “During the lockdown, I spent a lot more time alone and in nature. I felt really connected to the outdoors and felt that we are interdependent on nature for our survival. The water that hydrates us, the air we breathe, the food that nourishes us, and how important it is to protect nature for future generations.
“Awaken to Nature is really a call for people to get back in touch with what energizes us – and that’s our natural environment. So my hope was that it would help people rediscover their true selves in nature.”
Wall said she was interested in the studies indicating that nature immersion is linked to significant physical, emotional and psychological health benefits. She has several links to that researched material on her website, soulforcecreative.com.
But her book is a first-person account. Wall explains that skiing, cycling, running and hiking – in all conditions – teaches perseverance and tenacity. And people tend to be more involved in, and re-engage in, outdoor sports more often, she said. Aerobic sports with a rhythm can even make the mind wander. And it’s a break from being plugged in with earbuds or plugged into a device.
Wall said the terminology varies: biophilia or ecotherapy or forest therapy. But the consistent theme is the mental and physical health benefits.
“I refer to it as nature immersion because I don’t limit it to the forest. But when you’re out in the forest, there are essential oils that are given off by the trees that are actually health-promoting and can positively affect your immune system,” Wall said.
She also painted many of the scenes she felt a connection with and which art is included in the book. The cover features Glacier National Park, but several scenes are from Wisconsin’s Lake Country.
Wall’s book can be purchased through the Soulforce Creative website.