Have you had your Vitamin N today?


Linville Falls overlook 2014

Close your eyes…inhale deeply...now exhale fully.  Absorb the smells, sounds, and sensations all around you.  Connect with the ground under you; sense the sky above you.  Now open your eyes and enjoy the fullness of the great outdoors!

Oh wait! It is likely that you are inside while you are reading this… thus illustrating the reason for this blog post.  Research indicating the benefits of spending time outside has gained popularity over the last several years due the diminishing moments we share with the trees, birds, and flowers.  As Richard Louve states, “The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”  Basically, the more two dimensional our work, school, and recreation becomes with a focus on navigating screens, the greater the need for time outdoors to explore, move, or simply breathe.  As a SAS employee, I know we value our screen time; it’s our livelihood.  But, we need to balance that screen with some green!

Why this need for oxygen rich air, vibrant color, and tactile stimulation?  Let’s explore 4 reasons for getting your daily dose of vitamin N (NATURE).

1-Nature deficit disorder – What is that?  Well, you want to avoid it and prevent it for your kids.  Although not used as a medical diagnosis, it’s now considered a “real” thing by many scholars in education as well as environmental science and behavioral psychology.  Richard Louve coined the term in 2009 and emphasized the importance of being in the quiet and calm environment available outdoors.  Effects of NDD stretch from fear to anxiety and depression to attention disorders.

2-It’s good for your heart – Let’s take a look at Miyazaki's Study:
A physiological anthropologist and vice director of Chiba University’s Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences outside of Tokyo has taken research subjects into the woods, this is what he found:
A leisurely walk in the woods can lead to -
12.4% decrease in the stress hormone cortisol
7% decrease in sympathetic nerve activity (also known as "fight-or-flight" behaviors)
1.4% decrease in blood pressure
5.8% decrease in heart rate
Bottom line, signs point to…GO OUTSIDE!

3- Your immunity will thank you – Vitamin N is full of Vitamin D!  University of Pittsburgh researchers reported in 2005 that spinal surgery patients experienced less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications during their recoveries if they were exposed to natural light.

4-You will feel better and more alive – That’s why it’s a good idea to take a walk when you want to scream (or after you scream) or say something you will regret.  Moving outdoors offers a neutral space for you to breathe and take things one step at a time.  This is where I have reaped the benefits the most.  Time outside every day is, for me, a recipe for sanity.  The expansive, diverse, at times overwhelming, stimulation makes me feel at home.  I find a sense of connection, wonder, reverence, and surprise, and I love sharing time with my husband while we both receive the benefits of Vitamin N.

Now, go get yours!

"The poetry of the earth is never dead." John Keats



About Author

Rebecca Allen

Recreation and Fitness Program Coordinator Wellness

Rebecca E. Allen is passionate about helping others develop and nurture practices of well-being.   She earned her BS in Sociology and MA in Exercise and Sport Science and holds fitness certifications from ACE, AFAA,, IFTA, and Tai Chi for Health Institute.  She is a Medical Exercise Specialist and is registered with Yoga Alliance as a 500 RYT. Rebecca enjoys long walks in the woods with her husband, Chip Davis.

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