Spring is right around the corner! With the weather warming and the sun shining, now is the perfect time to plan for outdoor activities. Did you know there are many great benefits to being outside?
Improves Mental Health and Fights Depression
Spending time outside is really good for your brain. In a number of studies, being outside increases cognitive function and happiness and decreases stress, which are crucial for maintaining good mental health and battling depression and anxiety. Nature brings a sense of relaxation which can improve mood and increase overall feelings of happiness.
Many activities outdoors include some sort of physical activity. Exercise increases the “feel good” endorphins, or chemicals in the brain, that increase sense of well-being. Exercise outdoors also keeps your mind active with increased blood flow throughout your body.
When sunlight enters your eyes, it sends signals to your brain to produce serotonin, which is a hormone that raises energy levels and increases mood and sense of well-being. When sunlight is on your skin, it triggers your body to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D plays many roles in your body, but one important one is boosting energy levels.
Decreases Risk of Health Issues
Time outdoors has been proven to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes hospitalizations. It isn’t known exactly what occurs in our bodies for this to happen, but researchers suspect the positive effects have something to do with increased immune function and vitamin D production.
A 2016 paper, published in Environment Health Perspectives, found a significant connection that “greater exposure to greenness was associated with a 12% lower mortality rate.” Other health related issues that showed a significant connection with being outdoors is reduced risk of death from cancer, lung disease, and kidney disease.
Things to do outdoors:
- Go for a walk: Take in the beautiful outdoors and get some fresh air by going for a walk. It doesn’t have to be at a fast pace or for a long distance. Even a short walk will get your body moving and “feel good” hormones working.
- Gardening: Gardening isn’t often thought of as exercise, but it can be a great way to maintain strength and a way to fit in some light physical activity. It is also fun to watch plants grow over the season and harvest the produce!
- Birdwatching: This is something easy to take up and can be a great way to learn about the different types of birds in your area and the songs they sing. It can also be very therapeutic!
- Picnics: Bring your meal outdoors, and while you’re at it, enjoy a meal with friends or family! Eating with others is a great way to add socialization to your day. Socialization is shown to increase mood and reduce other health complications.
Two hours outside a week is shown to have positive effects on health and well-being, that’s only a half hour each day!