Yeah I know it's coming into winter in the Southern Hemisphere and it's harder to motivate yourself to get outside but seriously, if you do anything this weekend, get yourself into some dense forest, near the ocean, by a waterfall or on a mountain. Why so specific? As well as the fact that it is good to get outside and move, it's because of these wee things called Ions.
What is an ion? 'An ion is a molecule that has lost or gained an electron through various atmospheric forces or environmental influences.'.
I have always been aware of how good I felt out at my Nanas house which has dense bush and is close to the West Coast. But never before have I been so aware of the benefits of being near the ocean, waterfalls, and on a mountain as when I was working in Iceland with McNair Snowsports in April. I was teaching yoga, cooking, and then we were exerting ourselves through the day climbing on our split-boards over 1000meters and then riding down huge faces...and doing it all again. I came away from this week feeling simply incredible. So much so that I've started running again (something I haven't been able to since I suffered from Chronic Fatigue (see 'Sian's Story for more on this)). So I began questioning why and how and where this excessive energy was coming from.
In brief, as humans in the modern world we are running 'positively charged'.
Positive ions are usually carbon dioxide molecules that have been stripped of an electron. They have a negative effect on your body when you are exposed to them in excess, which you are if you are living in a polluted city, in crowded areas, and in confined spaces such as offices, industrial areas, schools and cars.
This is particularly the case with your lungs and respiratory tract but your immune system can also be affected. This is because positive ions are so small they can be absorbed directly into your bloodstream from the air you breathe.
An excess of positively charged ions in your environment is believed to contribute to tiredness and a lack of energy, tension, anxiety and irritability.
So lets talk Negative (which is really positive, honestly).
Negative Ions facilitate the acquisition of oxygen from the air into the lungs, turbo-boosting the functions of the body, improving its defences, which in turn benefits the entire cardiovascular, endocrine (hormonal) and nervous systems.
Hello nervous system! For starters negative ions act on the nervous system to relax it. This, in turn, influences various functions of the body, including stimulating the production of red blood cells, the development of healthy cells, raising the blood ph (we want a good non-acidic ph going on in our bodies), reducing cholesterol in the blood, exerting a beneficial effect on the bronchial tubes, lungs and throughout the nervous system.
So where do we find these negative Ions I hear you cry - negative ions are in abundance in forests, at the beach, less so, but still, in the mountains and most intensely near waterfalls. This is a good part of the reason why you usually feel so great in these places and find it difficult to be tired or depressed.
So if you aren't convinced by this wee overview to get outside, experiment on yourself, blow dry your hair, talk on your mobile, put some clothes in the drier, use your printer and computer, lie in front of your TV, talk on your phone, (a regular day eh) and see how you feel at the end of the day, compared to a day walking in the bush to a waterfall, a swim in the ocean, or best of all....go snowboarding in Iceland.