6 Scientific Benefits of Being Outside
Without fail, every single fall, I have this insatiable urge to go up into the mountains and not come back until my mind feels clear and my heart feels connected to the earth once again.
There are far more than six scientific benefits of being outside; however, for the purpose of this article, I wanted to highlight the reasons you should make time in your schedule to connect with Mother Nature right away.
Over the last decade, our society spent many workdays indoors under fluorescent lights, in front of the computer screen, and staring down at the phone with the blue light straining our eyes. We all know that blue light can keep us from falling asleep, affecting the body’s circadian rhythm (our natural wake and sleep cycle), but we can’t seem to step away…or can we?
Take a mental note right now on how you are feeling.
No matter where you live, humans need to spend time outdoors if you want to improve your physical and mental health. It could mean hiking, getting in the snow and walking, skiing, or just going down to your local park or river. No matter where you live, it is important for you to make a list of places nearby where you can escape just for 20 minutes each day. Yes! Even 20 minutes daily helps.
6 Scientific Benefits of Being Outside:
- Natural sunlight helps your body heal. After the last year, let’s take a close look at this one. Adequate vitamin D is central to a strong skeleton, and over time, even slight shortfalls in vitamin D can actually impact bone strength. As I worked to heal my own body, I noticed that my pain level was much better with proper vitamin D because insufficient vitamin D forces your body to withdraw calcium from bones in order to maintain balance in the body. You can develop osteoporosis and increase your risk of fracture if you don’t pay attention to your vitamin D level.
- Nature walks have memory-promoting effects. There was a study done at the University of Michigan where students were given a brief memory test, then divided into two groups. One group took a walk around an arboretum and the other walked down the city street. When the students returned and did the test again, those who walked among trees did almost 20% better than they had the first time. The participants who did the city walk did not improve. Take their advice and schedule your lunch outside among the trees and then go for a brisk walk if you are feeling a bit sluggish in your mind.
- The outdoors boosts your immune system and provides aromatherapy. Scientists think that breathing in phytoncides, (the science behind forest bathing), that the airborne chemicals produced by plants can actually increase our levels of white blood cells which will help us fight off infections and diseases. Not to mention smelling the natural scents like roses, pine, and freshly cut grass can make you feel calmer and more relaxed. Don’t forget to pick up a sprig of rosemary and smell it for memory too.
- Being outdoors boosts your energy. I know what you are thinking, if I suggest skipping your second cup of coffee and sitting outside you might think “sacrilege”, but really, ship the caffeine. One study suggests that spending 20 minutes in the open air gives your brain an energy boost comparable to your favorite coffee beverage. How’s that for saving money?
- The outdoors enhances creativity. Writer’s block? Your muse has left you? Step away from the screen and go for a hike! Backpackers scored 50 percent higher on creativity tests after being away from technology in the wilderness according to a study done by psychologists. “We show that four days of immersion in nature, and the corresponding disconnection from multimedia and technology, increases performance on a creativity, problem-solving task by a full 50 percent,” the researchers conclude. I would say that working longer hours does not help your creativity based on this research. Get outside!
- Seasonal Affective Disorder got you down? Get outside! You know the drill, “winter is coming”. True, but you don’t have to let the White Walkers get you down. SAD is triggered by lower light levels, and it really can up your anxiety, exhaustion and sadness. Even if the weather is overcast, spending time outdoors can lessen the severity of SAD according to doctors. If you are finding yourself losing interest in things during the winter, change up your routine, put the layers on, and take a walk. Wim Hof approves. You don’t have to take ice baths like he does, but really, his research has long fascinated me and if you are in my Health and Wellness Club, you know what I mean.
Many of you know me by now, but if this is your first time here, welcome. For over 23 years, I have researched, mapped out a plan, and helped myself and others take back control of their health through yoga, meditation, exercise and honestly, just pure determination that this isn’t how your story has to go. Be well my friends.
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