Summertime is in full swing and we are loving spending as much time outdoors as we possibly can! From the beach to the mountains, there are so many amazing things we can do in the great outdoors during this time of the year. Not only does being outside make us happy, it makes us healthy! Here we’ve got seven ways how being outside makes you healthier…AS IF we needed more reasons to get outside and enjoy this beautiful weather!
1.Excercise made easy
When we think outdoors, we think, feel, and see green! Green is one of the most prevalent colors in nature and we’re sure glad it is. Researchers at the University of Essex conducted a study where they placed cyclists in front of green, gray, and red images. When exercising in front of the green images, the subjects reported that they felt lower energy exertion and less mood disturbances. Not only this, but other research shows that people who exercise outside are more eager for future workouts. Who wouldn’t want to spend more time outdoors?
2. Weight loss kickstart
We all know that being active can result in weight loss, but being active outdoors can give you head start on losing those pounds! Whether you are trekking through the trails, skiing down a pass, or enjoying the view from a mountain top, spending time at high altitudes can help you shed some weight. Higher heights can speed up your metabolism while at the same time lessening your hunger cravings. We’re off to plan our next trip to the mountains!
3. Blue sky = Brain Power
Researchers are finding that not only does being outside help your physical self, it also helps your mental self! First of all, the great outdoors boosts your concentration levels. A study was conducted comparing children with ADHD who played indoors and outdoors. Those children who spent time in green, outdoor spaces reported fewer ADHD symptoms, even when they were doing the exact same activity as their indoor counterparts.
Second, research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that walking can increase creativity. While it has been found that no matter where you are walking prompts creativity, talking a walk outside has positive influences on novelty as well. We know what we’re doing on our lunch break to get our creative juices flowing!
Last, your brain doesn’t really need that caffeine in the morning. Many people find that spending just 20 minutes outside in the morning leaves them feeling awake and refreshed, not needing that morning cup of joe! (You may have to force us to try this one, we love our morning coffee…)
4. Vitamin D is our friend
Vitamin D is a tough nutrient to get solely from our diet since not many foods naturally carry it. Dr. Michael F. Holick, M.D., Ph.D. says that most of us get 80-90% of our daily Vitamin D from good ol’ Mr. Sun! It’s super important for us to get our daily dose in order to help avoid skin cancer, help both bone and skin growth, reduce inflammation, and increase neuromuscular and immune function. However, since our bodies can only take in Vitamin D during unprotected exposure, Dr. Holick suggests what he calls “sensible sun exposure.” This means braving the sun without sunscreen for about 10-15 minutes, about one third of the time it would take your skin to mildly burn. Once your skin has gotten to drink in a some sunshine, slather on the sunscreen and voyage on!
5. Not just for the youngins’
Spending time outside does wonders for everyone! One study found that spending time outside on a daily basis helps people stay healthier and functioning longer in old age. Participants in the study who spent time outdoors every day at age 70 showed fewer complaints of aching bones, sleep problems, and other health-related problems, at age 77 than those who did not head outside each day. Just spending some time outdoors can bring you great rewards, but participating in group activities in nature can provide even more benefits! Research shows that gardening can help dementia and stroke patients improve social skills and confidence, while increasing mobility and dexterity.
6. Stress Less
When we are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, there is nothing we like more than sticking our toes in the sand and soaking in some ocean air. Seattle-based environmental psychologist Judith Heerwagon spoke to The Huffington Post and said “Just looking at a garden or trees or going for a walk, even if it’s in your own neighborhood, reduces stress. I don’t think anyone understands why, but there’s something about being in a natural setting that shows clear evidence of stress reduction, including physiological evidence — like lower heart rate.” Scents play a big role in this stress-reduction as well. The smell of flowers, like jasmine and lilac, has been proven to decrease stress and increase relaxation, whereas the scent of fresh pine can lower depression and anxiety.
Not only does being outdoors decrease stress, spending more time with nature brings about positive mood shifts. Even though we don’t know exactly why this happens, Heerwagon says “the theory is that we respond positively to things that are good for us. Trees offer shade, protection and often have fruits and nuts, so they are a source of food as well as protection and comfort.” Basically, things that can help us survive and provide for us, bring about a positive reaction, resulting in higher levels of happiness.
After all of this, we don’t see ANY reason to not spend all our time outdoors! It’s not like we have jobs or anything…