Sun and fresh air - here is nothing like the simple pleasure of being outside and taking a break from the indoors. According to numerous studies, being outside has the power to heal our bodies and improve well-being both physically and mentally.
In the age of COVID-19, with social-distancing mandates still in place in many parts of the US, now is a perfect time to reap the rewards of being outside. Here are some reasons why you should put on those sneakers, head out the door and enjoy the beauty of mother nature.
1. It Increases Vitamin D Intake
Besides getting vitamin D from the food and drink we consume, our bodies can get vitamin D from the sun.
Our skin has the amazing ability to convert the UVB rays from sunshine into vitamin D, but only on unexposed skin without sunblock.
Ten to fifteen minutes is an ample amount of time to get some vitamin D. After that skin is more likely to get sunburned, so make sure to protect your skin with some SPF.
2. It Promotes More Physical Activity
There are so many opportunities to be physically active when you go outside. Indoor living is associated with sedentary behavior while being outdoors is associated with the opposite. Children are especially more active when they are outside.
Whether it’s brisk walking or strenuous exercise, we’ll be doing a lot less sitting and a lot more moving in the great outdoors with so much space to roam.
According to the CDC, children should be getting 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per day while adults should get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. This includes riding a bike, water aerobics, dancing and hiking.
3. It Uplifts Your Mood
Surrounding yourself in nature can have a positive mental effect.
Studies in the field called ecotherapy have shown time spent in nature can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression.
The calming sounds, outdoor silence, and the visual scenery can soothe thoughts of worry, distract the mind from negative thinking, and increase feelings of happiness.
4. It Sharpens Memory
Evidence shows improvements in memory when outside in nature or green environments. Consistently going on nature walks can significantly increase memory span.
For those with dementia, walking outside can delay cognitive decline and has benefits in their continued ability to communicate effectively.
5. Speeds Up Healing Time
Exposure to direct natural light from the sun has been shown to help patients recovering from surgery to experience less pain, take fewer medications, and have shorter hospital stays.
Some view nature as a spiritual healer. Even for those who cannot leave the hospital, incorporating nature through audio or visual access has shown improvements in physical and emotional state.
6. Increases Focus
Some children focus better when being outdoors. After walking through a park, children with ADHD got better scores on a concentration test. Other studies suggest positive effects on the condition overall.
Being outside in nature allows the brain to take a break from the constant day-to-day stimulation, which can be mentally draining.
7. Supports Graceful Aging
Adults over the age of 70 who spent time outdoors have experienced many beneficial health effects, including improved mobility, more ease in performing daily activities, fewer muscle aches and pains, and fewer sleep difficulties.
Because age reduces the skin’s ability to convert sunlight to vitamin D, older adults who are outside more often will decrease their risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Many self-reported findings show that older adults who are actively outdoors have fewer depressive symptoms, better physical functioning, and a decreased fear of falling.
Whether you are at the age of 70 or 7, being outside is related to so many wondrous and timeless benefits you will not want to miss out on.
Learn more about healthy lifestyle habits and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by JC Alhambra, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern