News from Illinois CancerCare

Walking Toward Health and Happiness

Spending time in fresh air is not only enjoyable, it’s also good for your mental and physical health!

In addition to scientific research that demonstrates the benefits of spending time outside, many people just instinctively understand the power of nature.

Here are some of the top benefits of going for a hike or taking a walk with a friend:
Increased concentration

If you’ve found your mind wandering more lately, you’re not alone. It’s easy to get into a rut, especially if you’re trying to get back on track after the pandemic or dealing with a disease like cancer. Take a walk to listen to the birds, feel the sun on your arms and see the beauty of nature. Sometimes that’s all you need to get your brain back on track and sharpen your memory.

Improved mood

Natural light and movement help increase serotonin which is a naturally-occurring brain chemical that can help you feel better emotionally. Many people also find that sharing a smile or chat with others while they’re out and about boosts their mood.

Increased energy

Although you may initially feel tired after exercising, as you get in the habit of exercising regularly, you’ll start to notice you have more energy. Of course, if you have health concerns or something doesn’t “feel right,” you should pay attention to your body and reach out to your healthcare provider with any concerns.

Increased intake of vitamin D

Even though you should wear sunscreen to avoid skin cancer, our skin absorbs UV-B rays and converts them into vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with osteoporosis, cancer, cardiovascular problems and depression. Because you’ll be wearing sunscreen, don’t count on sunshine alone to increase your vitamin D levels. You’ll also find it in animal-based foods (egg yolks, beef liver, fortified milk, fish, etc.) or may need a supplement – always tell your healthcare provider about any supplements you’re taking.

Improved healing

Some studies suggest that some individuals who are exposed to fresh air and sun heal a bit more quickly, have a more positive outlook during the recovery process and take fewer pain medications.

We know that walking around the neighborhood or the same park can get boring.

That’s why we’re introducing you to AllTrails – This website highlights 1,335 hiking, biking and running trails in Illinois and includes the following features:

  • The ability to narrow down your list of trails using filters such as difficulty, kid-friendly, paved, bird-watching and so much more
  • Hand-curated trail maps and driving directions
  • Detailed reviews from hikers, campers and nature lovers
  • Trail lengths of 0.6 miles to 200 miles at varying elevations
  • Available for other states, so you can use it when traveling

As we emerge from the pandemic and try to define our new normal, getting back to nature is so important. We encourage you to take your first (or next) step toward better mental and physical health by enjoying the fresh air and beauty that surrounds us.



Fresh Air and Fond Memories

Combining the healing power of nature with the warm memories of those we love, Illinois CancerCare Foundation is creating a Tribute Garden called The Path of Hope. Paved in the shape of a ribbon, this garden will be a beautiful place for reflection, relaxation, celebration and remembrance.