Nature-based coaching and the research on time spent outside

posted in: Coaching | 1


Forest bathing. Park prescriptions. Healing hikes.

All are 21st century approaches to going outside in search of something more. We go to nature for better health, for reflection, and for personal growth and challenge. “Going to nature” may mean walking deep into the forest, pedaling along a city bike path, or simply sitting outside on a park bench.

There’s so much research on the benefits of getting outside and the need for more of it. In his 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods, author Richard Louv wrote about “nature deficit order,” the human cost of alienation from nature. The book resonated with readers. We need time spent outside.

And a 2014 study out of Stanford University found that a person’s creative output increases by an average of 60 percent when walking, whether inside or out. Co-author of the Stanford study, Marily Oppezzo, said, “This isn’t to say that every task at work should be done while simultaneously walking, but those that require a fresh perspective or new ideas would benefit from it.” There’s something about moving that takes the pressure off, propels us forward, and opens our mind.

A Fresh Perspective and Nature-based Coaching

Cones_smOne of the greatest benefits of professional coaching is that it can result in fresh perspective, the kind that the Stanford study found boosts creativity. Clients come to coaches with their agenda for growth and change. So often, clients feel stuck in their station in life, and can be stuck in terms of mindset, too. Coaching opens up possibilities, and coaching outside is expansive. We’re more creative, we’re moving forward, we’re part of something larger than ourselves. It’s no wonder that coaching outside with clients feels so darn good.

And while Stanford’s research is groundbreaking for its linking of creativity to walking, some of the most powerful coaching experiences I’ve had have been when my clients and I pause to be still, to breathe, and to notice what’s around us as well as what’s happening within. I was sitting high above the Clarion River recently – watching the river down below and a fox in a nearby field. The only sounds I could hear were the wind blowing and some birdsong. And I thought, I should be here with a client. Here’s to finding such opportunities moving forward!

For more on my coaching services, including how to sign up for a complementary session, visit my coaching page.


Standford study

Why Walking Matters video

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