In all honesty, Mother Nature can find the inner world a bit hard to compete with at times. After all, he can’t offer a flat-screen TV, air conditioning, or WiFi. But he can offer something even more important: better health, through a stronger immune system, better sleep, and reduced stress.
Spending time outdoors can improve physical and mental health in a variety of ways. You don’t have to spend an hour or so outside before the benefits start.
According to a
Even if there isn’t any greenery around, spending time in the sun and fresh air can help you feel better mentally and physically.
Below, you’ll find 8 health benefits of spending time outdoors.
Air pollution can cause allergies, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses, which you may already know. You may be surprised to find, however, that the indoor concentration of air pollutants is always two to five times higher than outdoor concentrations.
But spending a lot of time in natural green spaces can help lower your risk of respiratory worries.
You can usually find the freshest air in areas with high air circulation. For example, camping on an open farm can give you greater relief from pollution than relaxing along a river walled by tall buildings and factories.
Often, your body’s internal clock follows the day, making you feel awake during the day and asleep at night. Although artificial light can mimic natural light, direct sunlight has
Exposing yourself to sunlight can improve your sleep by:
The nice thing about sunlight? It doesn’t cost anything. To get a daily dose, you need to go outside.
Just remember that sunlight has to enter your eyes to affect your circadian rhythm. If you’re hoping to improve your sleep, a picnic on the beach can help more than just sleep in a shady wooded area.
Sunlight can often help relieve depressive symptoms such as low mood and fatigue.
Light therapy can help treat major depression and seasonal depression. If you have seasonal depression, you may notice improvement
Experts are not yet entirely sure what effect sunlight has on depression.
Some people believe that sunlight has a
If depression has depleted your energy, you can still easily get sunlight. Try taking in your daily dose while eating lunch, reading a book, or doing a good, old-fashioned sun bath-just don’t forget sunscreen.
Exercising in green spaces will help improve your
- provide a nice change of pace from gyms and make physical activity more interesting and fun
- making it easier to get along, because many gyms have unspoken rules not chatting with the person on the treadmill next to yours.
- feel easier and less tiring, according to
2013 researchsuggests that people who walk outside are more likely to exercise more vigorously and report less effort
You don’t have to bike a triathlon or ski a mountain to enjoy exercising in nature. Any activity that activates your body the way you can, such as gardening, playing with your dog in the park, or washing your car, can provide some health benefits.
The modern world has many disturbing stimuli – flashing screens, vibrating phones, roaring channels – that compete with our limited attention. This ongoing overstimulation can raise your stress levels that you are not aware of.
The natural world, on the other hand, can provide a mental and emotional refuge when you need to relax and recharge. In nature, soothing attractions for your senses, from the scent of flowers to the music of the bird’s song, can keep your attention from exhausting your mental energy.
Research from 2020 suggests that spending time in nature can help you feel more relaxed and focused, especially if you take the time to notice your surroundings. To get these benefits, you can consider doing slow-moving, meditation activities like hiking in the woods or kayaking on a lake.
Even ignoring the pandemic right now, spending time outdoors can still help your immune system function properly. Microorganisms found in nature that are not dangerous can train your immune system, so to speak, to help prepare it for more serious infections.
If you live your life in a completely sterile environment, your immune system may lose the ability to recognize what is dangerous and not dangerous. It can set a red alert for any microorganism it finds, which can lead to
So, while soap is a nice invention, mud can sometimes be good for you too.
There is some evidence to suggest that children who spend a lot of time outdoors have a lower chance of developing myopia, or nearsightedness.
Increasing eye-work distance when doing close-up work and resting after 30 minutes of close-up work also provide protection.
Experts suggest some possible reasons why spending time outdoors can help protect against myopia:
- Natural light offers brighter and greater collection of wavelengths of visible light.
- The exterior allows your eye to practice seeing objects from different distances.
- Light stimulates the retina to produce dopamine, that is
can restrain your eyeballfrom stretching and damaging your vision. This theory has only been tested on animals, though.
This benefit only seems to affect the eye as it grows, so spending time outdoors will not bring myopia back into adulthood.
However, regular outdoor activities in childhood, such as playing catch, swimming, and sledding can save your child from traveling to the optometrist line. An added bonus: They also offer many opportunities for family reunion.
Time outdoors can do more than help relieve unwanted or painful emotions such as fear, anxiety, and sadness. It can also help develop the emotions you want to feel better, such as joy, peace, and optimism.
Going outside at night can also leave you with awe and connection to the world. In addition, reducing noise and light helps you focus on the world around you more quickly. If you want to make a deeper or more spiritual connection to the natural world at night, consider night activities like star gazing or night fishing.
It’s easy to forget sometimes that there’s a whole world outside your window.
Making it a habit to spend regular time outdoors, especially in nature, can do a lot to improve physical and emotional health. It can also be added to strengthen your bond with the planet, or the Mother herself.
Emily Swaim is a freelance writer and health psychology specialist editor. He has a BA in English from Kenyon College and an MFA in writing from the California College of the Arts. In 2021, he received his certification from the Board of Editors of Life Sciences (BELS). You can find more of his work on GoodTherapy, Verywell, Investopedia, Vox, and Insider. Find him Twitter and LinkedIn.