Aerial view of Puerco Canyon trail. Photos by Lucian Himes
Sophomore Colleen Ballatore starts some of her days off with popping in her airpods, turning on her favorite podcast and going for a walk. She said it’s a way for her to get a light workout in while learning and gaining knowledge about topics she is interested in.
Many students said they engage in activities in nature for their mental health. These can range from walking, to running, to surfing, to snowboarding. Spending time in nature can improve both mood and self-esteem, according to a 2013 National Library of Medicine article.
“Anytime I go outside for a run or walk, I feel like no matter what’s going on in my life, just getting out and getting some movement in really changes everything,” Ballatore said. “I could be having the worst day but just getting outside allows me to clear my head.”
Ballatore said she enjoys outdoor activities like running, tennis, hiking and walking. She started going on weekly walks when COVID-19 started so she could get out of the house during her online classes — the fresh air always boosted her mood.
Sophomore Megan La Camera is on the cross country and track team at Pepperdine and has been running since her first year of high school. She said when she runs she feels happiness, peace and gratitude.
“[Running] definitely always improves my mood,” La Camera said. “I can’t think of one time where I felt worse after going for a run. I feel like it always helps, especially being a student, you get busy and I think it’s a form of self care.”
La Camera said running outside is also a good way to explore a new area. She notices more new things about her surroundings while running than at any other time because she can fully absorb nature — especially in a place like Malibu.
“Being on a treadmill in the gym, there is so much going on and so many people are surrounding you,” Ballatore said. “But when you’re outside, I feel like it’s nice to just enjoy the surroundings.”
Ballatore said she enjoys running with her friends and teammates because they are always making jokes and laughing. On the other hand, she also enjoys running alone because she said sometimes it is nice to reflect on her life.
“The running community and runners are generally pretty disciplined and committed people, and I’ve noticed runners are great friends,” La Camera said. “Also your mood will definitely improve and it’s cool to see your fitness improve, as well.”
First-year Logan Bole takes part in a number of different outside activities — hiking, skating, surfing and snowboarding are just a few — but he said his favorite is snowboarding.
Bole is from Louisville, Kentucky, and he first started snowboarding at the age of 14, and once he got his driver’s license, he said he had the freedom and opportunity to snowboard every weekend.
“No matter what happened, even if I rode bad that day or just didn’t have fun, maybe I fell a lot or I was just off, I still come out with a day just so happy that I was able to do that and had the opportunity to go snowboard or surf,” Bole said.
It wasn’t until Bole got to Pepperdine that he started surfing. Bole said he always watched movies about surfing growing up, and some of his biggest inspirations are professional surfers.
Ballatore said getting out and doing an activity in nature always boosts her spirits.
“[Going on a walk] is so simple, and anyone can do it,” Ballatore said. “It also doesn’t matter how long or short you do it, but you’re always going to come from a walk with a better attitude and just a better mental state. I feel like you never regret a good walk.”
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