I spend much of my summer at our boathouse in the near pristine northern Adirondack Mountains.
It’s a place of peaceful relaxation and exciting outdoor recreation that is wonderfully restorative. Those outdoor activities include boating, swimming, hiking, climbing mountains and fire towers and so much more. The fresh air and fun yields clear physical and mental health benefits.
Although I make a concerted effort to exercise, walk and be active at my Center City home in Philadelphia, I’m rarely able to sustain the same level of activity that I do at our remote retreat surrounded by water and woods.
Why is that?
The truth is our environment has an outsized effect on our behavior.
Up north, the outdoors is alluring, compelling and the reason people spend time there. Getting physical in nature is the norm. It’s just what people do there. Our family is always going on a hike, swimming in the lake and exploring the shoreline with our canoes and kayaks.
Whereas back in the city, although we have our lovely little outdoor gardens & squares, our behaviors are more attuned to our life priorities. That environment dictates our days quite differently…making us focus on work and schedules. It fosters a “get urgent & important stuff done’ mindset. All of which is usually done to the detriment of physical activity.
Fitting in outdoor fun and physical activities requires discipline and willpower of which we have a finite supply.
Plus as humans, we’re social creatures and the behaviors of those around us are contagious and have a way of pulling us into their lesser orbits. For instance, if my husband has had a tough day at work and wants to have dinner at home and then veg out on the couch watching TV, I find myself being pulled into joining him (against my ideal scenario) because I want to be with him.
With more effort though, we can turn our city home into a more ideal place to thrive. Adding positive physical activities to our lives by taking advantage of all that environment can offer. With a short nap to recharge before dinner, we can indulge in the surrounding cityscape…walk along the river, experience a cultural event or even go dancing (a favorite of mine!).
Our identity, habits, and actions in the moment can alter how we see our environment and the benefits we take from it. Outdoor activities abound in the city and aligning our priorities with what we want a certain environment to represent for us can directly influence the great benefits we can draw from that environment.
Environment matters so choose where you spend your time (and how you spend your time there) wisely.
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