Take a Hike!

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
- John Muir, nicknamed ‘Father of the National Parks’ (Our National Parks, 1901)

A little more than 100 years after John Muir commented on the importance of the outdoors, individuals and organizations alike are beginning to recognize the restorative effects nature has on humans.

Simply being near nature – viewing a forest from a window, listening to bird sounds, having a plant nearby – can create a restorative experience. Immersion in nature creates even greater opportunities to detach from stresses, anxieties and pressures of daily life, generating even greater restoration. Kaplan’s (1995) Attention Restoration Theory provides theoretical underpinnings for the benefits of getting outdoors on overall health, and many studies and initiatives since have proven the importance of the nature on improving health outcomes.

Organizations, too, are beginning to realize the positive psychological, emotional, and physical effects time in nature has on individuals. Over the past few years in particular, big corporations like Apple, Facebook, Walmart, and Salesforce are beginning to make significant investments in creating restorative environments that bring the outdoors to their people while they’re at work. Universities like Cornell are teaming up with doctors hospital systems to create “Nature Rx” experiences, focused on prescribing engagement in nature to improve health and wellbeing.

What’s the point? What does nature have to do with work and leadership? As we continue through these stressful and increasingly virtual times during the pandemic, it’s increasingly important for us to get outside and enjoy time in nature. Leaders, encourage your teams to stop and take a five minute break outside their homes, or take a walk around your building during a lunch hour if you are working in-person and have a few minutes to spare. The break from the screen and connection to nature (even in overcast skies!) will facilitate a restorative experience for you and your teams both mentally and physically.

So, take a few minutes today to celebrate National Hiking Day (which does occur each November 17, believe it or not!) – and engage in restorative practices supplied by nature.



Ackerman, C. E., MSc. (2020, September 11). What is Kaplan's Attention Restoration Theory (ART)? Benefits + Criticisms. Retrieved November 02, 2020, from https://positivepsychology.com/attention-restoration-theory/

Cornell Health. (n.d.). Nature Rx. Retrieved November 02, 2020, from https://health.cornell.edu/resources/health-topics/nature-rx

Kaplan, S. (2004, May 20). The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework. Retrieved November 02, 2020, from https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/0272494495900012?token=3A6C3A5B1CF234C9601076E2B6B139474AA61C8D2D985208A9E6BDF3D05C7C0CF635CB15EBC72D57FFB08EEDD8896455

Klotz, A. and Bolino, M. (2017). Bringing the Great Outdoors into the Workplace: The Energizing Effect of Biophilic Work Design [Manuscript in preparation]. Mays Business School, Texas A&M University, and Price College of Business, University of Oklahoma.


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