From Bar Harbor, Maine, to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, many Americans will spend time this fall getting a better look at nature through leaf peeping. This outdoor activity involves traveling to national parks and other rural destinations to enjoy the changing foliage. While leaf peeping offers a visual vibrancy of color, it can also benefit your mind and body. Instead of simply driving along country roads to enjoy the foliage, park your car, get outside, and partake in all this splendid activity has to offer.
Regular exercise is an essential part of a healthy life. It helps reduce your chances of developing certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, improves sleep, and aids in maintaining a healthy weight. A leaf-peeping adventure is a perfect time to get in some outdoor exercise. Whether you are walking, jogging, kayaking, or cycling while enjoying the kaleidoscope of fall colors, you are participating in green exercise, which is any physical activity that takes place in a natural outdoor environment. Participating in green exercise helps increase your exposure to sunlight and, in return, enhances your vitamin D production, which can help promote healthy bones and teeth, strengthen your immune system, and support lung function and cardiovascular health. Partaking in outdoor exercise during fall can be a pleasant experience in many areas as the temperatures and humidity begin to drop, allowing you to spend more time outside without being uncomfortable or worrying about the dangers of overheating.
While exercising during your leaf-peeping trek can benefit you physically, this activity can also provide a boost to your mental health. A study conducted by Stanford University found that simply walking in nature can help lower the risk of depression, decrease anxiety levels, and improve cognition. You may also associate the colorful leaves with joyful memories you’ve made during fall throughout the years. From trick-or-treating with childhood friends to drinking warm apple cider with loved ones, the nostalgia that foliage triggers can positively impact your mood.
So take time this fall to experience leaf peeping for yourself—you very well may become a be-leafer in this activity’s benefits.
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