If you ever get that deep-sigh happiness feeling as you run along the lakeshore path, it’s not just a warm fuzzy and it’s not just the universe telling you that you live in the right place. We didn’t evolve surrounded by skyscrapers, people. Those feelings of happiness are a result of a long history of humanity that took place out and around nature, we added cement and steel to our skylines in the last couple of centuries.
Happiness is a piece of your whole health that you need to take care of. According to several sources compiled by Psychology Today, there is “a unique connection between nature and happiness itself.” Another study by the American Chemical Society stated, “Not only does direct exposure to nature increase happiness, but simply imagining yourself outdoors or recalling previous outdoor excursions has been shown to increase serotonin levels, thus boosting mood, decreasing exhaustion and improving overall health.” If you need a pep-up, find some trees, look at some water and let that mood boost flow through you.
If you’re following along, this means that running outside can boost your physical health and your mood. That’s what we, in the multi-tasking business, call a win-win. But like anything in fitness, if you’re incorporating running into your fit routine, it’s important to shake it up to keep yourself interested. That could mean changing your route, making a new playlist or even running your regular route backwards.
With a unique opportunity from GM to take a week-long joy-ride in the sporty Buick Verano Turbo, I grabbed a friend and we pursued happiness in the great outdoors.
We threw the Chicago Botanic Gardens into the GPS, a little Yonce on the radio and got out of the city to take a run.
Christiana, who’s responsible for all of the photos in this post, appreciated the blind-zone warning light along with the collision alert, both meant to keep us out of harm’s way if anyone were to creep into our side blind spots or stop suddenly in front of us.
Our time at the Chicago Botanic Gardens was a real reminder that there’s a lot of beauty to see and experience outside of the city.
This Chicago treasure gives the nature-seeker access to 385 acres of natural beauty on and around nine islands, with six miles of lakefront. With the goal of seeing as much of the Garden as possible, we created a route with Map My Fitness, covering just under 2 miles with stops to take in the scenery.
My favorite flavor from this little slice of heaven was the Japanese garden, which covers two islands. The plants are native to the Chicago area, but they’re cultivated and pruned in the Japanese style. Chicago’s plants with global culture. So obviously, I’m going to put together a Pinterest board on which I’ll dream of my future Japanese garden.
Was this run worth the 25-minute drive? Every second of it.
As it becomes more and more apparent that summer is actually happening, it is your duty to make the most of every warm minute. If you’re looking for a place to do your own running/exploring, Chicagoist compiled a great list of places off-the-beaten path to run around Chicago.
Adventure is out there, so get out and find your happy place.
Interested in taking your own run worth the drive? Take General Motors’ challenge on MapMyFitness.
Starting on June 26, “Runs Worth the Drive Challenge” participants must log 5 miles of running per week, for six weeks. The competition will be tracked on a virtual leaderboard on MapMyFitness.com, where progress will be measured in real-time and weekly prizes will be awarded. Runs of at least five minutes long will be logged automatically into a participant’s profile and count toward the ultimate goal of running 30 miles in six weeks.
Participants who accomplish that goal will be entered into the grand prize drawing for an all-expense paid trip to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon & Half-Marathon in Phoenix, Ariz.
(Disclosure: General Motors supplied me with the Buick Verano Turbo mentioned throughout this post. As always, I only write about the things I try and love)