When nature and nurture are put together in the same sentence it's usually as a dichotomy. Is it nature or nurture that causes someone to turn out as they did? Yet this either-or thinking distracts from the fact that nature is nurture. Just being in nature is good for us. As I write this, I'm sitting next to a window, with a bank of grasses outside. Whenever, I get stuck I look out at all the colour variation in the grasses, and how they bend in the wind, and my mind clears, the words flow.
One of the reasons I love mountain biking is because it takes me into some of the most beautiful places, where I can get away from the stresses of every day life and just bask in nature's bounty ... the trees, flowers, birds, wildlife, lakes, mountains... I could go on.
One of my favourite views is the Otter estuary as you come down from Budleigh Salterton. How can you not smile at these magnificent trees reflected in the river?
Or the reflections sunlight on the cliffs at Sidmouth?
Or the long shadows at Blackberry Camp?
I'm lucky enough to have lived in East Devon for around 15 years now, yet I still get shivers down my spine each time I ride down from Peak Hill into Sidmouth and see the cliffs of the Jurassic coast stretching away towards Dorset. This is one of those views makes you glad to be alive.
And this isn't just me being whimsical! A recent large study by The Wildlife Trusts and the University of Derby found that spending time in nature can lead to a 30% improvement in health and happiness.
“Intuitively we knew that nature was good for us as humans, but the results were beyond brilliant,” said Lucy McRobert, nature matters campaigns manager for The Wildlife Trusts.
The study showed that there was a scientifically significant increase in people’s health, happiness, connection to nature and active nature behaviours, such as feeding the birds and planting flowers for bees – not just throughout the challenge, but sustained for months after the challenge had been completed.
“Nature isn’t a miracle cure for diseases,” says McRobert, “But by interacting with it, spending time in it, experiencing it and appreciating it we can reap the benefits of feeling happier and healthier as a result.”
One of the ways to reap these benefits is on a bike, in a beautiful place. Get in touch to find out how we can help you incorporate mountain biking into your daily life - or your holiday in East Devon!