Go Outdoors for Your Health

go outdoors

Summer is here. Can you feel it? The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming. Fun activities are coming up, like barbecuing with friends and swimming with the kids. Other than having a good time and making great memories, did you know that there are many health benefits from getting out of the house and going outdoors?

Vitamin D

Getting the right amount of vitamin D can be tricky. You cannot get enough of this vitamin from food alone, and it is an important vitamin that your body needs. Did you know that your skin turns some ultraviolet radiation from the sun into vitamin D?  While you need the sun’s help in getting enough vitamin D for things like bone health, inflammation reduction, and immune system function, you also need to protect your skin from the harmful rays that can cause skin cancer. A good SPF and sensible sun exposer is always helpful for protecting you while you get the good nutrients you need. The natural vitamin D from the sun works better than pill supplements. Also, the sun is cost effective and right outside your door!

Make Exercise Easier

There' something about a warm breeze and fresh flowers that makes you more energized. Which would you rather work out around: gym equipment or nature? People who run outside rather than on a treadmill run faster and have more energy as they work out. Studies show that if a person gets outside to exercise instead of staying in a gym, that person is more likely to return outside and workout again the next day.

Eye Health

How much time do you spend indoors looking at a screen? You have been at work all day looking at a computer screen or at your phone. When you get home to relax, you probably you turn on the TV and stare into that too. Looking at a screen for too many hours a day can cause stress on your eyes and cause vision problems. This can cause eyestrain, inability to focus, dry eye irritation, and even aches in your neck, shoulder, and head. Getting outside and allowing yourself to focus on something that is not two feet from your face can alleviate the effects of all this screen time, also called Computer Vision Syndrome (or CVS). A recent study has also suggested that artificial light can cause nearsightedness. If you want good eyesight, get outside and start looking around.

Improved Mental Health

Need to refocus? Getting outside can help you do that. Take a break and just walk outside. Numerous studies have shown how the simple act of being outdoors is great for your mental health. It can also help with concentration skills. One study looked at ADHD in kids and their concentration when playing outside versus playing inside. Children with ADHD who played outside after school and on the weekends showed fewer symptoms of ADHD than the children who spent more time inside.

Going on a nice outdoor walk can increase your creativity. Fresh air causes your brain to kick into a higher gear, and you start to become more aware of what’s around you. Just a 20-minute walk anywhere outdoors can give your brain a boost that has the same effect as an entire cup of coffee. So ditch that second cup of coffee and get outside for a walk and some creative influence.

Not only will that nice stroll boost your energy and get some creative juices flowing, it is also found to decrease anxiety and depression. Both of these issues can be caused or worsened by stress, and getting out in the greenery and fresh air has shown to have healthy effects on people suffering from these problems.

Improved Sleep

Most people suffer from poor sleep patterns. Our internal clock gets all out of whack. How many times do you check your email just one last time or scroll through your Facebook feed before bed? This bright light as you are about to go to sleep does not help that internal clock. Again, the answer is getting away from the screen and going outside. Waking up early and getting exposed to those first few hours of sunlight is enough to help reset your internal clock. You want that bright, natural morning sun, not the late-night brightness from your computer screen as you check your email. A few consecutive days of early morning rising with the sun will be enough to get your sleep pattern back on track.

Grounding

This idea may sound strange, but just hear it out. Our Earth has a negative charge, a greater negative charge than our bodies. Your body absorbs the Earth’s electrons, and if you have rubber soles on your feet, how are you going to get these electrons into your body? By taking off our shoes and walking in the grass and dirt barefoot! Yes, this concept is on the edge of mainstream, but it has been shown to yield positive results in scientific tests. If the outdoors, just the air and surroundings, has all these great effects on your brain and eyes and immune system, why wouldn’t the grass on our bare feet have some great benefits as well? If you are going to be sitting outside watching your kid’s baseball game anyway, take your shoes off and get your toes in that dirt!

Go Outdoors to Improve Your Happiness

Being outdoors is not only great for your health, but it is also shown to have a great influence on your overall mood. There is no one specific study that shows why all of these benefits happen, but you can definitely feel the effect that the outdoors has on your body and mind and know that it is good for you in many ways. We get our food and water from the outdoors. We get vitamin D from the sun and healthy fresh air from the breeze. The trees and grass shelter us as we take a hike through the woods, making us feel protected and safe from the elements. There are many more factors that go into this, but only you will know how great you feel once you go outdoors and get that fresh air in your face and that grass under your feet.

If you're interested in hiking, but don't know where to start, check out Ranger Mac's blog post here. There you will find some hiking basics and more motivation to go outside!