Let’s be honest, life looks A LOT different than it did just a few short months ago.
The down side . . . Our eyes are fixed on computer screens for Zoom meetings instead of sitting across the table from colleagues and then we relocate at the end of the day to the couch to bask in the glow of our TV screens instead of meeting up with friends.
The up side . . . we have the freedom to spend more time outside and moving our bodies if we choose to. Why is this so beneficial?
Spending too much time inside (in our offices, in the car, in our homes) isn’t good for us. And getting outside is essential for our health.
Psychologists, scientists, and health researchers are finding more and more science-backed reasons why we should spend more time outside when we can.
We can’t just all pack up and visit the beach or mountains right now, but we could all benefit from spending more time exploring our neighborhoods and community. That could be taking a beautiful walk on the trails or even just visiting your local park if you find it hard to get out and about much – essentially, do whatever you can do to expose yourself to the outdoors.
So, let’s take a look today at why getting outdoors is so important for your health (backed by Science):
1. Fights off stress
Something about getting outdoors changes how your body reacts to stress.
One study found that people sent to go camping in the woods for two nights had lower levels of cortisol (your stress hormone) than those who spent that same time in the city. Surely that is social distancing approved!
Among office workers, even the view of nature outside the window is associated with lower stress and higher job satisfaction.
So, if you don’t have green views whilst your working, find little ways in your week to get more of them in to help you feel re-energized!
2. Spending time outside reduces inflammation
When inflammation strikes, it’s associated in varying degrees with a wide range of effects including back pain, knee pain, depression, digestive problems, and more. Spending time in nature may be one way to keep inflammation in check.
Research has proven that those who spend more time outdoors have lower levels of inflammation than those who spend most of their time inside.
In another study, elderly patients who had been sent on a week long trip to a woods showed reduced signs of inflammation, as well as some indications that being outside, had a positive effect on their hypertension.
And now that it’s Spring – spending more time outside is a lot easier!
3. Helps eliminate fatigue
You know that feeling when your brain feels ‘foggy’ and you feel extra tired at the end of the day? Well, Researchers call that “mental fatigue”, not necessarily physical fatigue.
One thing that can help get you back into gear is by exposing yourself to restorative environments – the great outdoors.
One study found that people’s mental energy bounced back even when they just looked at pictures of nature. (Pictures of city scenes had no such effect.)
So, if you find it hard to get outdoors often, that’s one simple solution to help clear brain fog!
4. Getting outside lowers blood pressure
With all the above effects, it’s no surprise that getting outside – which usually involves walking – lowers blood pressure too.
One study of 280 participants found that along with lowering our stress hormone by more than 15%, a walk outdoors lowered the average pulse by almost 4% and blood pressure by just over 2%.
So if you need to get your blood pressure levels back in a healthy state – go for a gentle walk!
5. Nature could improve your short-term memory
Find yourself getting a bit forgetful? I can’t even remember what day of the week it is these days. Well, there may just be a natural remedy for that!
Several studies have shown that nature walks have memory-promoting effects that other walks don’t (like on a treadmill or in a busy city)
In one study, a group of students was given a brief memory test, then divided into two groups. One group took a stroll around a park, and the others took a walk down a city street. When the participants returned and did the test again, those who had walked among trees did almost 20% better in the test than the first time. The ones who had taken in city sights instead did not consistently improve.
The take home message . . .
Get outside as much as you can this Spring – walking is a great way to keep active, mobile and give you an energy boost – it doesn’t have to be a hard hike. Enjoy a gentle stroll with your family and of course stay 6 feet away from other’s doing the same.
If aches, pains, or soreness is keeping you inside right now, download our FREE Ebook “Get FIt & Stay Fit: 7 Secret Strategies Athletes Know & Use” (even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete, this ebook will help you move and recover better for LIFE!