Take it Outside: The Health Benefits of Time Spent in Nature
Time in nature has a positive effect on both your mental and physical state. There is much scientific research that proclaims the benefits of outdoor recreation and how nature impacts our well-being. With an adequate amount of exposure to nature, stress levels can be alleviated, cognitive function can improve and you will experience an increase in overall physical health. Here are some scientific details on why you should get outside and ways you can integrate more nature into your lifestyle.
The outdoors provide you with ample amounts of clean oxygen. The oxygen you take in while you walk about or partake in physical activity will greatly improve your circulatory system and the production of blood cells. The natural terrain of nature is also ideal for the upkeep of your physical fitness. Whether it’s rolling hills, high elevation mountains, sandy beaches or an uneven dirt path, your body will be tested by the elements of nature. You will use muscles that may not be activated within a gym, as gym equipment is designed to target particular muscles in limited regions of the body. Compare the difference between indoor and outdoor workouts with the help of a Fitbit, which is used to track and monitor your heart rate and other bodily specs. Nature has an aesthetic appeal that increases your enjoyment of your physical activity; and nature’s elements contribute toward a more fulfilling workout.
Time in nature can benefit the many functions of the brain. Going outside can lower your cortisol levels and reduce your stress and anxiety. In a study published in the Journal of Landscape and Urban Planning, scientists gauged stress levels through the cortisol hormone within 25 healthy adults. The scientists asked participants questions about the stressors within their lives and then surveyed their ZIP code regions for its natural environment. Those who lived in greener areas had lower levels of cortisol and they reported less daily stresses, compared with those who lived in urban environments. Time outdoors has also been linked to greater creativity and enhanced focus. A national study investigated whether or not a green environment would have an effect on children with ADHD. Their findings showed that symptoms were reduced among children with ADHD. They continued to delve further into the subject and collected data from individuals without ADHD, but showed symptoms of attention fatigue. This demographic also showed an improvement in their “symptoms” when they had a greater exposure to nature.
Challenge yourself to integrate more outdoor activities into your lifestyle. Escape from the hustle and bustle of your urban environment and embark on weekend excursions that include camping, hiking or water activities. As you enjoy your outdoor adventures, also make sure you are prepared for the elements. Wear sunglasses, sunscreen and the proper apparel to limit the damaging effects of sun exposure. Make sure you are also prepared for any rainy or cold conditions — buy a waterproof windbreaker and wear layers that will keep you warm or for extra protection from the weather eliminates its always a good idea to take a pocket camping blanket with you!
If you don’t have much time for an escape into the wild, you can integrate more outdoor time into your normal routine. Take a walk and take time to enjoy nature! Anything you’d typically do inside, move it outside. Find a reading space outside where you can take in the breeze and the lovely views. You can create an outdoor dining space, where you and your family can enjoy their meals among the flora and the fauna. During your lunch hour, find a park where you can walk around and take a mental break from your stressful day.