How to QUADRUPLE up on the benefits of Nature

getting out in nature Ottawa fun activity wild here

I spent a whole morning last week adding "new" locations to my personal online urban nature map (it's amazing that you can make your own maps and add notes, mark locations - the technology these days!): greenspaces I want to visit, locations that could be great for photography walks and natural areas that can be enjoyed at different speeds.  That to me is a morning well spent as someone coming from an urban planning background (read: someone who loves cities) and who has more recently coupled that passion with her love of outdoors.  Cities to me are great places to explore nature and they offer up such a myriad of varied terrain and cool locations and surprising finds.  Ottawa is a city of 1.25 million with an area of 2,779 km² and I'm constantly surprised with all the locations STILL to check out!

Nature Connection for Adults Nearby Nature Wild Here

How big is your city?  

Are there places that you still want to explore?

Who can you invite to join you?

forest bathing ottawa Forest Walk Ottawa

One of the joys of looking at maps for me is playing between the aerial (satellite) view and the map view seeing if I can find trails that offer opportunities to explore greenspaces.  The Map view is great because it highlights many of these natural spaces in green and then the Aerial view helps me confirm if it's an open or forested space.  Switching between the two at a low scale (1:200) is my next step, as it reveals if there are trails and where the access from the street to the trails are located.  Then I'll use Street View to find the entry to these parks and wild spaces!  (Read more about finding new spots in the Wild. Here. Explore posts.)

It's a joy for me to visit new places and I'm extremely lucky to have a partner who likes to join in!  If not a partner, perhaps a friend or family member of yours would like to join or you could go with an outdoor or naturalist club to a location you've been hoping to check out!  And last week after exploring my map, I had a new location to suggest and we went out that afternoon.  We got to explore a few trails, take in a lovely winter landscape, spot some fun birds and even say hi to a local dog walking group.  And the sun came out just at the end of our walk - perfect ending!  After that day I got to thinking about how doing this type of nature exploring activity with a friend can truly benefit people in a multitude of ways!

Ottawa Nature Outing Best Nature Spot Wild Here
-- The sun and blue skies revealed themselves right at the end of our walk --

Benefits of Being Out In Nature

You may have heard about all the benefits that you can get from being out in nature.  And it doesn't have to be pristine nature (that you can only find by driving out of the city by car) that gives you these benefits!  It can be a tree-lined street, a small wooded area, a path along a river or even a green vista!  (Consider these 10 free Nature "treats" the next time you want to get your dose of "Vitamin N" in the city.)  These nature benefits include: stress reduction, feeling positive, lowering anxiety, increase in healing and added energy to name a few!  And you can benefit from nature in as little as one minute!  Yes, one minute - I kid you not!

Forest Walk with a Friend - Great for Loneliness - Nature Connection
-- Two friendly conifers trees --

Benefits of Doing an Activity with a Friend

Did you know that connecting with friends actually helps you stay healthy also?  By providing you with caring connections and helping stave off loneliness (NY Times Article), friends can be an important part of our "health" routine.  Yes!  The newest prescription from your doctor may be "call a friend"!  So the opportunity of going out to explore a new greenspace or park in the city with a friend will give you this second "friendship" health boost.  Friends help you feel heard, can increase your enjoyment of an activity and help you feel connected to your community.  And friendships may even save the world! (Huff Post - Shasta Nelson)

Great to be Active in Nature Ottawa Urban Wild
-- Active Woodpecker Seeking Something to Snack On --

Benefits of Being Active

Getting out and walking in nature is an easy way to add a bit of movement to your day.  None of us need to be told that movement is something we should include in our daily activities!  (American Heart Association) And a walk in a local greenspace is an easy way to get our daily exercise.  You don't need special equipment (although you may need a change of shoes!) and it's an activity that many people can do.  Find a park that provides benches or picnic tables if you know that you will want a rest at some point.  Or if you like more active workouts like running or cycling - mix up your gym routine and do these outdoors with a friend!

Try something New - Get Out In Nature Ottawa
-- Katherine practicing a new skill - macro shots --

Benefits of Doing Something New

Finally, beyond the physical and mental and social benefits, another benefit in getting outdoors and exploring a new space with a friend is doing something NEW.  Novelty is something that can benefit all of us and if you are the type of person that enjoys exploring a new place this is an easy way to add Novelty in your life.  Not only does novelty give your brain a workout but it also can make you happier and stimulate creativity  It can also make your evening or weekend feel longer.

Who doesn't want more of that?

What do you think?  Do you enjoy exploring new greenspaces in your city?

Are you excited about the benefits of getting out with a friend to explore a new greenspace?

Nature Benefits for Creatives - Patterns Urban Wild


  1. I love this, love the pictures of the woodpecker and the beautiful red 'berries'. I was just enjoying a short walk yesterday, thinking how lucky I was to be in the moment, seeing some green, and lots of bird activity. I was asking myself why I don't do this more often...

    And also, I would LOVE to explore Ottawa. It looks like it has so much to offer!

  2. Thank you so much!

    I find that I get too busy and forget that nature is so close by and offers us so much. So happy to hear that you got out to enjoy a walk in nature!

    Let us know when you plan to come to Ottawa!