People are drawn to the outdoors. During those long, sun-filled days of summer, we can’t wait to get out and enjoy a day at the park, a hike in the woods or a trip to the beach.
But the joy that being outside brings into our lives offers more than just the fleeting happiness that comes with the scent of the flowers or the feeling of grass between your toes. Incorporating the outdoors into your life can improve your health in every way, both physically and emotionally – and there’s a lot of science out there that shows just how far the benefits can go.
Spending time outdoors, particularly in green spaces, positively impacts stress, blood pressure, mood and overall mental health. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research shows that spending as little as twenty minutes a day in a park or green space can improve wellbeing. Every day, scientists are discovering more about the impact nature has on our overall wellbeing, and while there’s plenty of research still to be done, what we do know should inspire you to get outside.
Getting Outside Gets You Moving
Being outside inspires people to be more active. Whether that means a stroll down the street, hitting a hiking trail or going on a bike ride, more time outside means less time spent in front of the TV or on a computer. A study published by the University of California San Diego shows that people who exercise outdoors engaged in at least thirty more minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity compared to people who only exercise indoors.
Happiness Is a Big Breath of Fresh Air
Being outside is a big mood booster. There’s the feeling of a breeze on your skin or the smell of nature. But researchers from Harvard believe that sunlight has a lot to do with the happiness that’s created when we step outside. Light has been shown to improve mood with the most beneficial source being the natural light of the sun. And the sun is more than just a mood booster, it can actually help you heal physically. In one study, people recovering from surgery experienced less pain and stress, and took fewer medications, when they were exposed to natural light.
Our Bodies Are Nourished by the World Around Us
When sunlight hits your skin, it kickstarts a process that creates and activates vitamin D. This crucial nutrient has been shown to help promote good bone health, mood and cardiovascular function. But don’t get too much of a good thing. While the sun has many benefits, overexposure can damage your skin, so be sure to wear Aloe Sunscreen and spend plenty of time in the shade.
A Day Spent Outside Makes for a Better Night’s Sleep
Studies show that people who spend time outside, especially in natural green spaces, tend to get better sleep. Researchers with the University of Illinois believe the reason is that spending more time outdoors helps your body align to natural day and night-time, which boosts melatonin to improve feelings of sleepiness at night. Spending more time indoors exposes you to more artificial light, including blue light, which can throw off your sleep cycles and melatonin production.
Your Mind Needs Nature to Stay Sharp
Outdoor physical activity has also been shown to help people relax and cheer up, so some time in the elements might be just what you need after a demanding day. Getting outside can even help reduce the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of seasonal depression marked by anxiety, sadness and exhaustion. The good news is that the positive impact of being outside helps fight seasonal depression no matter what the weather is like. How to bring more of the outdoors into your daily life Experience the benefits nature can provide by finding little ways to incorporate the outdoors into your life. Here are a few ways you can get started right away.
Change Up Your Commuting Habits
Do you need to drive or take public transportation as much as you do? Are there any regular trips you make that could be done on foot instead, or on a bike? If you’re lucky enough to work somewhere you can get to on a bike instead of a car, try pedalling to work a couple of days a week.
Take Your Exercise Outside
When the weather’s nice, you can always suspend that gym membership for a few months and get your exercise outdoors. You’ll save some money and have plenty of great activities to choose from. There are the classics like running and hiking, but that’s just the beginning. You could take a stroll on your lunch break or take a weekend swim. No matter what you choose, the odds are pretty good that you’ll be glad you decided to forego the crowded gym in favour of enjoying the world outside your door.
Boost Your Creative Juices
Try taking your creative energy outdoors. Engaging in creative endeavours isn’t just relaxing, it’s great for your critical thinking skills, and the time you spend outdoors honing your craft will help reduce stress and increase your natural energy. Maybe you’ve thought about nature photography or have always wanted to learn to paint. No matter what you’re your passion is, there’s a way to incorporate nature and let the outdoors inspire you.
From weekend barbeques to picnics and even lunch on the patio of your favourite, restaurant, taking your meals outside every once in a while, can be a nice change of pace. Sharing a meal outdoors with people you care about is a great way to spend some time outside enjoying some of your favourite foods.
Plan a Camping Trip
Is there a better way to give your mind and body the benefits of nature than immersing yourself in it? It’s a rejuvenating feeling to take in the sights, smells and sounds of nature, while spending time with friends and loved ones around the glow of a campfire. It’s a perfect time to encourage your family to put away the phones and tablets and enjoy some good conversation. Camping is a great way to detox from the commotion of everyday life and enjoy what the world has to offer.
Stream Your Favourite Movies and Shows Outside
There’s no rule that says you have to binge inside on the sofa. Pull out your projector and screen your favourite movies or shows under the stars. Being outside will feel like a welcome change of pace from being cooped up indoors and you’ll be breathing some fresh air.
Discover the Trails Near You
Look into some of the hidden trails and outdoor gems in your area. Odds are good you’ll discover some new favourite trails to hike, run or mountain bike. Ask around at your local outdoor shop or do a little research online to find trails that you may not have known about in your area.