You’ve probably heard a million times that spending time outdoors is essential for your mental and physical health. But did you know that the benefits go beyond a simple breath of fresh air?
Below, we’ll explore the myriad rewards you can reap by spending some quality time with nature. From boosts in creativity and increased productivity to improved sleep and stress reduction, we’ll show you how the simple act of spending time in nature can keep your body and mind in top form.
The Physical Health Benefits
A healthy body supports a healthy mind, so let’s start with the physical benefits of getting back to nature.
Provides Vitamin D
Vitamin D is notoriously tricky to get, and a deficiency can cause serious health problems. Thankfully, sunlight can provide enough vitamin D to help combat heart disease, dementia, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and osteoporosis.
Resets Your Sleep
Sunlight can help reset your circadian rhythm. That’s your body’s internal clock, a natural cycle of sleep and waking.
Inflammation contributes to issues such as depression, cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can help reduce inflammation.
With people spending more time indoors, Computer Vision Syndrome is on the rise. Spending time in natural light can help relieve symptoms of CVS and nearsightedness.
Lower Your Blood Pressure
Moderate outdoor activities can help reduce your risk of high blood pressure and Type 2 Diabetes. Studies show they may even be as effective as more strenuous exercises.
Reduces Heart Attack and Stroke Risk
Just one hike per week can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Boosts Immune Systems
Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, is the simple act of spending time in nature, and it’s been shown to improve health and boost the immune system.
While studies are still being conducted, there is good evidence supporting claims that spending time walking in nature can help reduce your risk of certain types of cancer.
Lower Your Risk of Death
Everyone is keen on finding ways to fend of the reaper, and spending time outdoors and in the sun is one simple, effective way. It’s easy to see how adding some outdoor activities to your week can keep your body healthy so you can live a longer life.
The Mental Health Benefits
What good is a healthy body if your mind isn’t in the right place? Spending time outdoors has proven benefits for mental health, too.
Reduce Mental Fatigue
There is something magical about unplugging from modern life and just enjoying nature for a few hours. Even if you only have a few minutes on a lunch break to sit outside and soak in the sun, it’s a much-needed break for your overworked brain.
Twenty minutes outdoors can reduce your cortisol levels and lower stress.
An interesting phenomenon in runners, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts is the “Runners High,” which is a release of endorphins. These “feel good” hormones are your body’s way of rewarding you for taking such good care of it. Don’t worry if you’re not up for running or hiking; even a brisk walk can trigger this rush.
Fight Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety have been on the rise for many years, due in no small part to the hectic modern lifestyle of always being plugged into a machine or mobile device. You can fend off depression and anxiety, or mitigate the symptoms if you’re already suffering, just by being outdoors.
Natural light helps boost self-esteem and encourage better moods. It’s no wonder, after seeing all the benefits to mind and body already listed.
The Productivity Benefits
If the physical and mental benefits weren’t enough to convince you that spending time in nature is good for you, check out the productivity benefits you can get.
Better Academic Performance
Even moderate exercise in a “green” environment has been shown to improve reading, math, and comprehension.
Spending some time in nature and unplugging from social media has shown a 50% jump in creative problem-solving.
In one study, children who have ADHD scored higher on tests measuring attention spans after a short walk in nature.
Studies are underway that show a link between sunlight and nature exposure to increased alertness. It’s thought that the same negative ions that reduce depression and anxiety might also help boost alertness.
Improved Short-Term Memory
In one study, people who spent an hour walking through nature had a 20% boost to their attention spans and memory performance compared to those who walked in an urban setting.
So, how can you get more time outdoors to reap the physical and mental rewards? Try these simple tips to add more nature to your day.
• Visit a park and take a brisk walk on your lunch break.
• Walk to work.
• Walk the dog.
• Take the family out for a picnic.
• Suggest a “walking meeting” at work.
• Join a club or group that can help plan and inspire outdoor activities.
It’s clear that time outdoors can bring positive changes to your physical and mental wellbeing, but there’s still a lot more we’d like to show you. For a longer, more in-depth look into the many positives of spending time in nature by visiting The 19 Health Benefits of Spending Time Outside by My Open Country.
This post was contributed by Katrine Connelly. My Open Country started out as a hobby website, but it quickly became a fast-growing campaign to try and get more people excited about the outdoors and wilderness. She believes life wasn’t meant to be lived behind a computer screen so we’ve pulled together as much information as we can into one site, so you can spend less time planning and more time doing. Improve your wilderness adventures with in-depth articles on hiking, backpacking and camping skills, inspirational trip guides and awesome gear.