Going outside, though, has real and positive health benefits — both physically and mentally. Take some time to get outside, even just for a little bit, and you’ll begin to reap the benefits. Here’s what you can expect.
It Helps You to Stop Brooding
You know that feeling of going over and over in your head everything that’s wrong in your life? According to one study, walking for 90 minutes in a peaceful outdoor environment decreases this brooding and improve mood. Walking along a busy highway, however, didn’t change participants’ rumination.
It Helps Your Body Recover
Research has also shown that nature has a positive effect on recovery times from illness or injuries. Even just a view of nature from a hospital window can help. Another study found that six hours outside over two days showed increased white blood cell counts. Levels of these disease-fighting cells stayed elevated for at least seven days.
It Makes You Calmer
Spending time outside, or even just looking at the outdoors, reduces levels of cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone. In today’s hectic world, that’s more important than ever. Even just looking at nature out the window of your office can reduce tension.
It Increases Creativity
The stress and constant distractions of our everyday lives make it hard to think clearly and creatively. According to a 2012 study, spending time in nature can renew that creative spirit. The study had participants immerse themselves in nature for four days and found that creativity increased by 50 percent.
It Reduces Inflammation
Your body uses inflammation to respond to illnesses and injuries, but too much can lead to health problems such as autoimmune disorders and joint pain. It’s also been linked to heart disease and cancer. According to several studies, spending a few days out in nature can decrease inflammation levels and improve overall health.
It Provides a Break From Technology
Constantly being around technology and screens can stress us out, keep us distracted and mess with our sleep. Getting outside provides us a break from that and reduces stress by allowing us to get back into touch with nature and connect with family members. A short walk without your phone can help, and a longer stretch of outdoor time, such as a camping trip, can do wonders. You don’t even necessarily have to “rough it,” to have an enjoyable camping vacation.
It Encourages You to Exercise
Getting outside encourages you to exercise. One study found that people who exercised outside were more likely to look forward to their next workout. Being outside can make exercise feel less strenuous. Plus, there’s just much to do and so much beautiful scenery to admire outdoors.
It Gets You More Vitamin D
Even if you don’t do much physical activity when you’re outside, you can still get some physical health benefits. Vitamin D is important for bone growth, cell growth and immune system functioning. It’s hard to get enough just from food, so most of us get the majority of our Vitamin D from the sun. Just don’t stay in the sun so long that you get burned!
It Improves Focus
Spending time outside might help treat symptoms of ADHD. In one study, kids who took part in activities in green outdoor settings showed fewer symptoms than those who did the same activities inside. Similar effects were found in those without ADHD.
It Increases Self-Esteem
Feeling a bit down about yourself? Try spending some time outside. Spending time outdoors, especially in combination with exercising, has been shown to increase self-esteem and mood. This can be especially effective for those with mental health diagnoses.
Being outside has a range of positive mental and physical health impacts. Today, though, we spend much of our time indoors. Taking some time, even just a quick walk in the park, can provide some of these benefits and help you get back in touch with nature.