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’re moving our bodies in the waters and hills outside, and breathing in the fresh air.
And a Summit 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 felt better for it.
“I knew I felt good, I knew I felt energized. I didn’t understand the cascade of neuro chemicals that were being given off,” Wall said. “Even just sitting by the water’s edge allows us to relieve some of the stress that we might have been carrying.
“Whether you’re doing moving meditation, sight active silence, sports engagement, or whether you’re simply practicing mindfulness through stillness and nature – all of those things are health-promoting.”
For that reason, Wall wants us to continue paddling, biking and trekking outside.
Wall was born in Milwaukee and now splits her residence between Summit and Utah. She was a board member of the Pettit National Ice Center (serving two terms on the board of directors at Pettit Center from 2013-’19) and spent most of her business career in branding and sports marketing with the Olympic and Paralympic movements. She was an Olympic torchbearer and a brand protection manager for the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, and she also worked at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing.
She also has been serving on the board of advisors at the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University Law School since 2002.
She participates in a dozen amateur sports – the silent sports – all outdoors.
Wall began compiling the idea for her book, “Awaken in Nature. Discover Your True Self,” during the early stages of the pandemic when being outside felt restorative for her physical and mental health.
“I 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 by myself and in nature. I really felt connected with the outdoors and felt that we are interdependent on nature for our survival. The water that hydrates us, the air that we breathe, the food that nourishes us, and how important it is to protect nature for future generations.
“Awaken to Nature really is a call for people to reconnect with what energizes us – and that’s our natural surroundings. So my hope was that it would help people rediscover their true self in nature.”
Wall said she’s been interested in the studies that indicate nature immersion has been linked to significant physical, emotional and psychological health benefits. She has several links to those researched materials on her website, soulforcecreative.com.
But her book is a first-person account. Wall explains that skiing, biking, running and walking – in all conditions – teaches perseverance and fortitude. And people tend to be more engaged, and re-engage more often, with outdoor sports, she said. Aerobic sports with a rhythm can even let mind wander. And that’s a break from being plugged up with earbuds or plugged into a device.
Wall said the terminology varies: biophilia or eco therapy 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’s 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 a lot of the scenes that she felt a connection with and that art is included in the book. The front 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.