Wellness and the Great Outdoors: A Wildfitness Guide

Special Guest Post by Eric Walters, Wildfitness.

 

Instinctively, being outdoors, in nature is good for you. But where’s the evidence?

Wildfitness was started by Tara Wood after she realised that friends who visited her in coastal Kenya, who spent their time having fun, playing and relaxing, eating healthily and, most importantly, doing all of this in glorious, sublime nature, felt better after only a few days. They went back home feeling more confident, stronger, fitter and happier. 

The science supporting this link between the outdoors and wellbeing has been well established over the intervening years. Nature as medicine and, therefore, requiring dosage is an increasingly common concept. One study showed that 30 minutes a day outside in green spaces each week could reduce depression and high blood pressure by 7 and 9% respectively.

 

 

However, there is something more subtle that takes place on a Wildfitness retreat. Being out in nature is good for you but it is on a long list of things that are well documented to be good for you. Most of those are an absence of something, whether it is tobacco, alcohol, sugar, carbs and so on. What we do is bring the love back into what you do so that it isn’t a push away from something bad, an abstinence, but a pull towards something wholesome and fun. 

We play in nature. Sure, that means running around, climbing, crawling, swimming and jumping but those are rarely the primary concern on a Wildfitness retreat. The main objective is to have fun and then realise, after the event, “Wow, I haven’t moved like that in years!”

 

We’ve broken our approach down into three pillars: Move, Eat, and Live.

Move

We need varied, challenging movement to be truly resilient. Running 5km twice a week will make you reasonably good at exactly that. It won’t, for example, help you with heavy shopping bags or playing with the kids.

We start with a physical assessment of each guest so that we know where to pitch the level of challenge and will cover a wide variety of different sessions over the course of the retreat from high-intensity sessions such as kickboxing to sessions that focus on breathing techniques and self-massage.

 

Eat

This seems to be simultaneously the most challenging and the simplest element of overall wellbeing. There is an astounding complexity to how our digestive system works and we are only now starting to realise the immense impact the gut biome has on our wellbeing.

Having said that, there are plenty of very simple guidelines and approaches that will be extremely beneficial and are devoid of fad. In addition to eating well and talking through the whats and the whys of the dishes, we have a few sessions on how to take what you are learning home with you so that it is not just a one week fix but the start of a healthier you.

 

Live

This may sound quite a broad category and it is! The point is that, even if you move and eat well, without the rest of your life being in balance, you won’t be getting the most out of your efforts. You need to rest, to be aware of stress and have tools and approaches to deal with. 

You need to give your body time to rest, recover (from the movement and the eating) and build. We look at what stress is, the impacts on it and ways of dealing with it and, ultimately reducing the chronic form of it.

We don’t promise that you will drop a dress size. What we do promise is that we will show you a stronger, more resilient and confident version of yourself and provide you with the tools to continue to develop this back home.

 

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Wildfitness runs retreats all over the world, from a one-week Boost or a 2-week Transform. If you’ve enjoyed learning about exercise in the great outdoors, you might also like reading our feature on getting toned mindfully with Bold Bodies.

Christine Loth