Did you know that exercise is not only good for physical health, but for mental health, too? It is! The benefits only increase when done outdoors. That’s right! Just being outside for anything from a stroll to a run can also support the health of your mind.

Exercise enhances your mood by boosting feel good chemicals in the brain. Further, it can help improve sleep, reduce fatigue, and manage stress. Mixing the outdoors with exercise has been shown to boost self-esteem as well, but only in settings that are pleasant to the eye.

Luckily, our Eastern Shore has many beautiful spots for you to access to reap the mental health benefits of exercise and nature combined. Even better, many of them can be accessed at no cost. You just have to go with the mindset to enjoy the outdoors and get moving!

Our Eastern Shore area is full of rural attractions as well as artistically crafted outdoor settings. Maybe you’ll be interested in a few of these spots to enjoy the outdoors for your mental benefit.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is an expansive sprawl of land home to native wildlife which visitors have a chance to witness in a natural, preserved habitat via trails. The area includes part of Cambridge, MD and trails are pleasant and relaxing.

The Salisbury Zoo is a free, city-owned and operated zoological park with over 100 animals. After enjoying the sights and sounds of the animal enclosures during your walk, an adjoining city park is built around a local waterway.

Delaware’s Junction and Breakwater Trail spans over 6 miles on the edge of Cape Henlopen State Park and connects Lewes and Rehoboth, DE. The trail is made for patrons to enjoy the beauty of nature.

The Ward Museum’s Sculpture Garden and Nature Trail is located around the Ward Museum in Salisbury, MD next to the water. It’s filled with plants, art, and wildlife; a gorgeous spot to recharge the mind.

The local downtowns are each full of charm and beauty, with unique styles. What better way to be active and soothe your stress than exploring the local offerings of these community hubs?

Downtown Salisbury, MD uses the tagline, “It’s Happening”, probably because they have a lot going on from events to daily business operation, to restaurants, and even a newly renovated River Walk. The River Walk runs alongside the Wicomico River and provides a great view of the water and Amphitheater.

Downtown Cambridge, MD is inactive revitalization which has opened up new opportunities for arts and culture in the area. Enjoying a walk through this growing downtown can also take you out to the banks of the Choptank River for a picturesque sight.

Downtown Berlin, MD is known for its historic veneer. The architecture is quaint and pleasing to the eye. Just moments away from Maryland’s major beach and boardwalk, it’s a great place to get started on an outdoor walk to heal the mind.

Finally, if you’re on the Eastern Shore, you know that there’s no place more pleasing to the eye, more outdoorsy, or more perfect to enjoy mind-boosting physical activity than the beach! Whether you’re in Ocean City, MD to enjoy the bustling boardwalk, Assateague Island for Kayaking and wild ponies, Rehoboth Beach to see the parks and ride the bike paths, or simply walk the sands of any of these tranquil, oceanfront spots, they all fit the bill for supporting your mental health.

So take it down to the water, downtown, or adventure out to a local attraction to get active outdoors for your mental wellness. Do it locally in the easily accessible beauty here at home.

Works Cited

Pretty, J, et al. “The Mental and Physical Health Outcomes of Green Exercise.” International Journal of Environmental Health Research, vol. 15, no. 5, Oct. 2005, pp. 319–337. The National Center for Biotechnology Information, doi:10.1080/09603120500155963.

Sharma, Ashish, et al. “Exercise for Mental Health.” The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychology, vol. 8, no. 2, 2006. The National Center for Biotechnology Information, PMCID: PMC1470658.

Weir, Kristen. “The Exercise Effect.” Monitor On Psychology, vol. 42, no. 11, Dec. 2011, p. 48., www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.

Ali Nicole