Enjoy the Outdoors
Updated: Jul 24
Now that the weather is warmer and the days are longer, are you spending more time outside? You’re probably responding with a resounding “YES”. It’s easier to gravitate outdoors when the light and warmth from the sun is so inviting. You may even appreciate the opportunity and pleasure to partake in some of the seasonal activities. However, despite the time you enjoy outdoors you are likely not getting enough of it.
Research has shown that the average American spends 87% of their life indoors, 6% in vehicles and 7% outdoors. As a society we have become disconnected to the natural word and our lifestyle has become more sedentary. This has led us to what is referred to as the Nature Deficit Disorder. This is not a medical condition but rather a term used to describe our diminished use of the senses, difficulty maintaining attention, conditions leading to obesity, and increasing physical and emotional illnesses.
Let’s examine some of the benefits obtained when there is more exposure to your natural environment.
From a physical perspective you receive the following:
1) Increased vitamin D- The sun helps increase your body’s production of vitamin D which helps regulate your immune system and reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.
2) Increased Physical Activity- You move more when you are outdoors. You take more steps to explore your surroundings, bend and stretch when your gardening, and use your upper and lower body when hiking or climbing. Activity helps increase your oxygenation and burn calories as you expend energy. It also helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes.
3) Better Sleep - Spending time outdoors helps to reset our circadian rhythm (internal clock) and restore a more natural sleep pattern. You will also fall asleep faster and have quality sleep.
4) Reduce Blood Pressure - Just 30 minutes outside helps lower your pulse and blood pressure. It provides you with a different perspective as it takes you away from work and other indoor environmental stressors.
5) Improved Air Quality- Spending time inside can increase your exposure to infectious diseases and common allergies (dust and pet dander). Repeat exposure to indoor cleaning products that contain toxic chemicals may also lead to chronic respiratory conditions.
6) Boost Your Vision- Blurred vision, red eyes and headaches are common due to extended time on screens. Going outdoors can help give your eyes a break and readjust to natural light. It also helps to decrease the developments of near sightedness.
From a mental health perspective:
1) Reduces Stress- Being outdoors helps reduce production of the stress hormone cortisol and increases release of endorphins the feel-good hormones. Spending time outdoors provide a multi-sensory experience. Listening to the sound of the birds, feeling the wind or gentle breeze, and seeing the colors of nature create a calmer and relaxed state.
2) Reduces Mental Fatigue- Constant stimulation from working and being on devices does not allow your brain to turn off or slow down. Taking time outdoors provides increase oxygenation leads to increased alertness and concentration resulting in increased creativity.
3) Social Interaction - Stepping outside increases your opportunity to meet other people. Friendly exchanges with others help to push away feelings of loneliness which helps boost mental wellness.
When you think it about it, the benefits really are amazing. Now that you know all there is to gain from being outside, I hope you’re ready to make a habit of going out daily to enjoy an activity under the great big sky!
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