It is no myth that getting outside is good for you. Researchers say there are many reasons to go outdoors. Being outside is fun – but more importantly, it is good for your body, mind, and soul.
Here are five reasons why getting outside will improve your health.
1. It Promotes Physical Fitness
Does it seem easier to exercise outside than indoors? This could be due to a lush, green environment. Or, it might be thanks to natural sunlight. Whatever the reason, being outdoors helps you get more exercise and improve your fitness.
It costs nothing to exercise outside – no gym membership or special equipment. Just walk out the door. The uneven ground will vary your workout, and the wind will enhance the intensity. You can still do gym exercises at a park with calisthenics equipment.
As a health bonus, outdoor exercise boosts your energy. Researchers say 20 minutes of outdoor activity gives you an energy boost equal to one cup of coffee. Who needs caffeine when you have nature and sunlight?
2. It Improves Mental Health
Whether you walk during lunch or hike with a group, outdoor time improves your mental health. The change of pace and environment refreshes your mind and restores your focus.
If you feel stuck at work, it might be time to close your laptop and head outdoors. Have you gone camping in Pennsylvania, tried riding a bike in Moab or been Hiking in the Redwoods? Getting outside provides you with so many amazing sites to see as well.
Nature nurtures creativity. Backpackers scored 50 percent better on creativity tests after being outdoors without electronics.
What if you feel down on yourself as well as non-creative? A few minutes of outdoor activity improves your self-esteem. This is especially true if you spend time in green space or near water.
Your activity doesn’t have to be high-intensity exercise, either. Take a stroll, ride a bike or work in the garden.
3. It Relieves Emotional Stress
Have you noticed how a plant in the room – or even a picture of one – makes you feel less stressed? It’s even better if you leave the room and go outside for a while. Stress can lead to depression, so going outdoors is important.
Sunlight does more than boost your mood. It increases the level of natural antidepressants in your brain. According to one study, the brain produces more serotonin on sunny days than on dark ones.
There is another benefit to being in sunlight and connecting with nature. It increases activity in parts of the brain linked to emotional stability. So, going outside relieves stress and balances your emotions.
4. It Elevates Sleep Quality
More than a third of American adults do not get enough sleep, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends sleeping for at least seven hours.
Getting outside helps set your sleep cycle. Your eyes need enough light to set your internal clock and make sure it works right. Early sunlight seems to help you sleep better at night.
This is more important as you age. As you get older, your eyes do not absorb light as well. This can cause sleep problems like insomnia. For better sleep quality, wake up earlier in the day and spend some time in the morning sun.
5. It Boosts Immune Function
Going outside gives you a dose of Vitamin D, which helps your body function better. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium, reduces inflammation and prevents bone loss. Although it is present in some foods, 90 percent of Vitamin D comes from sunlight.
Better Vitamin D production is good for your immune system, but going outside helps in other ways. Plants put substances in the air that enhance your immune function. Also, sunlight energizes special cells called T cells, which fight infection.
One study found that people who went outside every day for a few hours saw an increase in white blood cells. Think of these cells as immunity cells; they fight viruses and diseases.
With summer around the corner, now is a good time to get outside for a while. Longer days, better weather and vacation schedules make it easier. Not only will you have fun, but you’ll feel happier and healthier than ever.