Charles Sturt University’s Foundation Day is coming up on the 19th of July, and as Australia’s first carbon-neutral University, Charles Sturt is a great example to us on how to live sustainably in union with our beautiful Australian landscape.
With Charles Sturt’s eco-friendly campuses, students are given ample opportunities to engage with nature in open spaces which is so important for our physical and mental health. Any benefits from spending time outdoors are often counteracting the negative effects of digital devices and technological use in the home, so be sure to balance both past times for a healthy lifestyle giving time outdoors the priority.
Studies show that open green spaces benefit our health both physically and mentally. Going to the gym is a popular pastime for some students, but I find the problem with the gym is that it’s a little boring. Walking for an hour in the same spot just isn’t something I find fun. In urban areas you’ll often find bicycle paths, walking tracks and outdoor gym equipment in open spaces for local residents. These facilities encourage physical activity which helps us combat chronic illnesses, decrease mortality rate and occurrence of obesity. This Foundation Day I encourage you to explore some of the walking tracks near your home and get active out under the open skies, enjoy the sounds and feelings of nature.
How do the open green spaces across CSU’s campuses and in our communities help our mental health? As noted before, these spaces encourage us to be physically active which boosts our mental wellbeing and gives us that feeling of euphoria, nicknamed “runners high”. Anxiety and depression are two mental health diseases that are very influenced by physical activity and studies show that spending time outside in green space has an incredible effect on these conditions. As students, we can get very stressed, tense and mentally fatigued. Green open spaces provide shade, cleaner air, and reduced noise which help us to treat all of these health problems.
Studies also show that spending time in these areas reduces our levels of cortisol. They help us to calm down, release any stress, and recharge our cognitive energy. This Foundation Day I encourage you to find the closest green open space near your home and spend some time there reading a book, sketching or meditating.