10 Health Benefits Of Being Outdoors
10 Health Benefits Of Being Outdoors
Even if you consider yourself an indoor person, you may want to venture outside for some of these health benefits.
Sep 19, 2022
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Many of us spend the majority of our day inside. Whether we are at home, work in an office, or find ourselves running back and forth between the home and the office, spending time outdoors can be very limited depending on our lifestyles. Unless it is the warmer weather seasons of spring and summer, a lot of us opt for staying indoors most of the time. However, spending time outdoors in Mother Nature hosts a variety of health benefits. Here are some of the health benefits of being outdoors.
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Being outdoors provides opportunities to be physically active
According to the CDC , spending time outdoors presents moments to be physically active. As noted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service , “Being outside in green spaces supports an active and healthy lifestyle, which has shown to increase life expectancy , improve sleep quality and reduce cancer risk.”
The US Forest Service even states that some studies have shown natural outdoor environments in urban spaces are more enticing for physical activity and are more likely to motivate people to exercise, leading to higher levels of fitness.
Whether it is gardening in the backyard, hiking the local trails or walking around the community park with your pet, being outdoors can inspire us to get moving and stay active with daily forms of physical activity.
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If you are having trouble falling asleep at night, try spending some more time outside. According to Stanford Medicine , “ Findings published in Preventive Medicine show that increasing the amount of time you spend outdoors can improve sleep quality, particularly for men and people over the age of 65.” No matter what age you are, spending time outdoors can do wonders if you are looking to clock better quality zzz’s every night.
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Bolsters mental health
Besides physical benefits, being outdoors touts mental health benefits as well. “There are many mental wellness benefits associated with being outside in green spaces, such as lower risk of depression and faster psychological stress recovery,” notes the US Forest Service. “Studies have shown that being in nature can restore and strengthen our mental capacities , increasing attention, cognition and focus.”
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Can lessen pain
Earthing, a practice in which you stand barefoot in nature, has been shown to ease inflammation and pain . Even if you prefer to keep your shoes on (we get it), spending time outdoors can shift your focus away from any physical pain you may be feeling and bring your attention and focus to other things you see instead.
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Creates connection and community
Another major component of mental health that many people do not think about is social connection. The outdoors serves as a venue to come together with friends and family and connect with the larger community. Being outdoors provides space for all of us to come together. Whether it is gathering under a tree for conversation or walking along trails, Mother Nature provides a beautiful backdrop for community connection and social gatherings.
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Fresh air gives you a fresh take
Have you ever been inside working all day and all of a sudden you hit a wall and need to take a break, like right now? (Us too.) When this happens, most times we head outdoors for a walk around the block and a quick change of scenery. It is amazing how spending time outdoors in nature can give you a fresh take on things. One study from Stanford University even found walking can improve creativity.
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Helps with happiness
As noted by the American Psychological Association (APA) “Contact with nature is associated with increases in happiness, subjective well-being, positive affect, positive social interactions and a sense of meaning and purpose in life, as well as decreases in mental distress.” You can see the full research study here . If you are feeling out of sorts and are looking for a low-lift way to boost your mood, spend some time outdoors.
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Increases vitamin D levels
Exposure to sunshine thereby gives us exposure to vitamin D. Also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” Harvard Health reports research that suggests vitamin D may have protective effects against everything from cancer to depression to heart attacks and stroke. If you plan on spending time outdoors, always remember to use a proper UVA/UVB skin screen to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
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Outdoor time can also give you alone time
Outdoor activity is the new me-time. Even when you are outdoors with a group of people, time spent outside can present mini moments all to yourself. Outdoor activities with a group are great, but there will also be certain moments that are exclusively your own, separate from group participation. It could be enjoying a moment of sunshine on your face or listening to the wind rustling in the trees. You can still find peace and quiet even while in a group.
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Time outdoors may also promote mental health and stress reduction
Studies have shown that being outside in nature is relaxing , which can reduce our cortisol levels, heart rates, muscle tension and overall stress levels, all of which are factors for cardiovascular disease .