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Go Outside: Nature for the Soul

By Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES June 22, 2016Pearls of Wisdom Blog

Spending time in the great outdoors can improve your outlook and provide a welcome change from the monotony of indoor scenery many cancer survivors experience. Nature can provide tranquility and peace to help balance a busy schedule or ease a stressed mind. The wonder and simplicity that outdoor life exhibits can refresh your perspective and energy as well even just a simple walk in the park is a great way to get outdoors.

June is National Camping Month and the perfect time to head outside! If overnight camping isn’t for you, there are plenty of other ways to experience nature and celebrate this month.

  • Take a walk at your local park or nature center. If your mobility is an issue, look into renting a motorized cart. Many parks host outdoor concerts, movies, and plays during the lazy days of summer. Need help finding a park in your area? Visit Find Your Park.
  • Pack a picnic lunch or snack and head outside. Invite friends or family to join you. Don’t forget the marshmallows for s’mores if you have a fire or grill.
  • Go fish! Many states offer a free fishing day in June. All you need on that day is your own pole and bait. Hook, line, and sinker! Find the details for your state here:
  • Visit a day camp or overnight retreat sponsored by cancer support organizations. Some of these organizations include: Epic Experience, First Descents (Young Adults), Camp Bluebird (Nashville), and Camp Mak-A-Dream. Enjoying nature and challenging yourself with fellow cancer survivors can be a truly rewarding experience.
  • Sign up for a nature walk, butterfly, or bird-watching tour at a local nature center. Many parks and botanical garden groups offer free or low-cost activities that are fun, educational, and relaxing.
  • Grab a chair and a sun umbrella. Enjoy your own patio, deck, or yard if driving to a park isn’t an option. Play some games like identifying flowers, plants, and birds in your own backyard. Find some paper and pencil and sketch what you see. Bring a refreshing beverage and sunscreen too!
  • Hike a trail. Many natural areas and parks have trails that offer different skills levels from beginners to the highly skilled outdoors person! Wear protective clothing and bug spray along with carrying a walking stick for balance.
  • Go swimming instead. Head to the lake or river and rent a canoe or kayak. Don’t live near a river or lake? A pool will do the trick! Relax on a float or even just dip your toes in.
  • Go for a “virtual” outdoor camping experience by visiting the library or going online at home. Who knows? You may see rare exotic plants, nearly extinct animals, colorful fish or rarely seen wonders of the world by just turning a page or clicking the mouse! The National Park Service turns 100 years old in August 2016. Take a free virtual tour of your favorite national park here.

Before heading outdoors, clear it with your healthcare team. Are you strong enough for exercise? Is your immune system healthy enough? Once outdoors, be sure to practice good summer safety sunscreen, hydration, and food safety.

Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Author Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Nutrition Educator Margaret Martin is a Licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist in the State of Tennessee as well as a Certified Diabetes Educator. Margaret graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and received her Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science & Public Health from the University of Tennessee. With more than 10 years of experience in Clinical Nutrition, Margaret has also worked in the insurance industry with WellPoint Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield providing telephonic nutrition consultations, service assistance, and web-based nutrition education. In her free time Margaret volunteers with the American Lung Association’s annual “Lung Force Walk" in Middle Tennessee. She belongs to the Oncology Nutrition & Diabetes Care and Education Dietetic Practice Groups of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

More posts by Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

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