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More and more people are feeling a loss of connection with nature, as big cities grow and smartphones and other technology become increasingly important in our lives, for example. This has been termed “nature deficit disorder” by Richard Louv, author of books such as Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Time in nature is important to our health in general; it has been linked to lowering levels of depression, boosting one’s immune system and other wonderful benefits. So how can one connect with nature by biking?

Mindful Biking

Walking mindfully in a forest to improve one’s health is known as Shinrin-Yoku, or Forest Bathing, in Japan. It involves walking slowly and being mindful of what the five senses can take in while one is in the forest. Try to do the same while biking, slowing down to allow your senses to appreciate the natural surroundings. This is best done in silence, either alone or with a group of other people who also agree not to chat.

People cycling across a stream.

Treasure Hunt

For those that like to be given specific tasks, create or download a list of things to look for while biking in nature. For example, you could look for something shaped like a heart, listen for a bird, find something that stinks or find some water.

Finding Secret Spots

Why not cycle around and find some nice, hidden places? Maybe some of those forest spirits from the Studio Ghibli anime films could be hiding out under that big, old tree. You could even get off your bike and check out those spots to see how comfortable they’d be.

Barefoot Breaks

What about the days when you have all the time in the world? Why not stop by a park with a patch of grass and take your socks and shoes off? Walk on the earth barefoot, letting the blades of grass tickle the soles of your feet and maybe a pebble or two to get stuck between your toes. This is called earthing or grounding – your body will absorb electrons from the Earth, leading to a variety of health benefits, including better sleep quality.

So try these out and let us know in the comments how they worked for you. Do you have any methods you’d like to share?