This week we are in Vail, Coloardo for the Burton US Open of Snowboarding and we couldn’t be more stoked! We get to spend our week educating thousands of people how to live a healthy, active life and spend TONS of time outdoors living the snowboarding life. Because Mother Nature is our office this week, we wanted to share with you all just how much good being outdoors can be for our overall health. As if you didn’t have enough reasons to get outside already, check out below and we bet you’ll be heading out the door asap!
FOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN
Spending all of our time in the concrete jungle can quickly become monotonous and depressing. Artificial environments are ultimately boring to our innate need for novelty. Although they can be exciting and stimulating in the short-term, they don’t tick all the boxes in the list of things our brain requires for novelty and excitement. Nature can give us a sense of being away from it all, either mentally or physically. The natural world is absolutely fascinating! Because natural environments are so rich in scope, they very easily capture our imagination. This doesn’t stop with just visually-fascinating environments either. Nature provides a myriad of sounds, smells, and textures, all of which are vastly different than a city environment.
INCREASE YOUR HAPPINESS
Spending time in a natural environment can surely boost our mood—but do we really appreciate how much? We tend to underestimate the benefits that nature can have on our happiness and state of mind. Studies show that activities in nature make us feel more happy than those same exact activities performed indoors. For example, walking through a park makes us a lot happier than walking on a treadmill in the gym. We can all relate to this idea—you’re thinking about going for a walk, but you don’t really want to leave the comfort of the couch. Somehow, you work up the motivation to change your clothes, drive to your favorite trail, and start hiking. Lo and behold—you immediately feel amazing! You wonder why you don’t do this more often! And when you’re done, you think, “I am so glad I did that.” It’s easy to forget how happy getting outside makes us—but the more often we practice, the easier it will be to remember.
According to a study from the University of Michigan, group nature walks are linked to enhanced mental health and positivity, as well as significantly lower levels of depression and feelings of stress. Had a particularly hard day? Grab a friend or your significant other for a post-work mood booster.
IMPROVE YOUR OUTLOOK
If you’re dreading the thought of spending another workout chained to the treadmill, move your run outdoors for a quick burst of happiness. A study from Glasgow University showed that people who walked, biked, or ran in nature had a lower risk of poor mental health than people who worked out indoors.
LOTS OF VITMAIN D
Several recent studies have shown that vitamin D plays a huge role in reducing the development and spread of cancer, including one from the University of California, San Diego, which found the less exposure a woman had to sunlight (your body makes vitamin D from sunshine), the more likely she was to develop breast cancer. Many women are deficient in vitamin D, so ask your doctor about getting tested. You may need to get more midday sun (many experts suggest ten to 15 minutes per day) or take supplements.
IMPROVE YOUR FOCUS
Can’t decide where to go on your next weekend getaway? You might want to consider a trip to the countryside. According to a study published in Psychological Science, interacting with nature gives your brain a break from everyday overstimulation, which can have a restorative effect on your attention levels.
STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNITY
Fun fact: The latest get-healthy pill isn’t found it in your medicine cabinet—it’s in your backyard. Researchers at Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School found that women who spent six hours in the woods over the course of two days had an increase in virus- and tumor-fighting white blood cells, and the boost lasted at least seven days afterwards.
Our modern lifestyles can get pretty hectic if we let the stress build up unchecked. In fact, being stressed is now just the norm—so much so that it can easily go unnoticed. Being in a natural environment or a green space can give us a feeling of relaxation that combats anxiety and stress. Going for a walk along a river, through a park, or up in the hills is a sure-fire way to de-stress. In fact, this effect is so powerful that simply viewing the outdoors or pictures of beautiful natural scenes can affect our thought patterns in a helpful way. A mental break to relax and de-stress could be as simple as a quick walk, looking at the awesome nature scenes screensaver you’ve got on your computer, eating dinner at a picnic table in the park instead of in front of the TV, or gazing at the flowers sitting on your kitchen table.
IF YOU CAN’T GET OUTSIDE…
Of course, we can’t always find the time to spend hours lounging in the grass. Luckily, you can still reap some brain-boosting benefits without leaving your house. According to a study in the Korean Journal of Radiology,people who were shown pictures of scenic, natural landscapes had heightened activity in areas of the brain associated with recall of happy memories compared to people shown urban landscapes. So put some outdoor shots at your desk or set them as your monitor background for some help in a pinch.