We delve into the reasons why being back out in nature is so good for our overall health and wellbeing.
We all know that incredible, refreshing feeling of having spent the day outdoors. Either when we’ve spent time outside wrapped up cosy in a scarf and hat, hearing the satisfying crunch of snow under our feet or if we’ve spent the day in glorious sunshine and return home with a beautiful glowing feeling. Here we explore some of the benefits you’ll take advantage of next time you decide to spend some quality time in the Great Outdoors!
You’ll reap the benefits of Sunlight Exposure
We often hear about the dangers of too much sun exposure, but with the right balance, there are plenty of benefits to soaking up those rays too. Studies show that spending just 15 minutes with arms, face and hands exposed to the sun three times a week is enough to absorb sufficient levels of Vitamin D. This vitamin is created by the skin when exposed to the sun’s Ultra B Lights. This amazing vitamin is responsible for strengthening bones, and getting enough of it can lower the risk of heart attacks, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Then we have Serotonin, the hormone associated with making us feel happy and calm, and focused. Our body produces this wonderful hormone every time sunlight reaches the retina of our eyes. The lack of such is why some people often feel sad during the wintertime when there is less sunlight. Serotonin is such a crucial part of our chemistry that it plays a role in sleep, digestion, bone density and mood.
You’ll Improve our Sleep
Have you ever noticed that when we see children spending a few hours outside, someone usually is bound to declare, “they’ll sleep well tonight!” Let’s explore why that is; one reason is that when outside, we are usually encouraged to move about more and expend our energy. Another has to do with our Circadian Rhythms and how our bodies are in synchronicity with the light and darkness of the day and night. Spending extra hours outside in the sunlight (especially in the morning) and away from the glow of the artificial light from our devices, our internal clocks begin to reset so that we can sync back into our natural sleeping rhythms.
You’ll become physically fitter
What better way to enjoy some exercise than to take it outside?! So many of us have memberships to indoors gyms, but there is something extra special about being able to exercise amongst nature, whether that be a cycle through the woods or playing tennis on a sunny day.
Even a brisk walk in some fresh air is all it takes to raise the heart rate enough to feel all the benefits associated with it. Controlling weight, strengthening bones and muscles, plus increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to all parts of the body with the bonus of some beautiful scenery to observe along the way is a great way to add to that feeling of overall well being.
You’ll boost your immunity
Spending time outside breathing in optimum amounts of oxygen strengthens and cleanses the lungs. Not only that, but T-cells, a crucial part of our immune systems that help fight off infection and illness, are activated and energised when exposed to sunlight. Did you know that even plants are boosting our immunity? They release airborne chemicals called “phytoncides” that help the body to produce more white blood cells!
You’ll improve memory and creativity
An exciting study that followed 56 people taking part in a 4-day hike found that those who took a creativity test afterwards scored 50% higher than those who took the test before leaving.
Another study showed that after just 1 hour of being outside, memory performance and attention spans were improved by 20%! It seems that simply being outside can bring us all the same effects as meditating, which leads us to the next benefit:
A stroll through nature and trees is an uplifting experience; it brings about a feeling of being back in touch with the broader world and allows us to take a step back from our hurried lives and take time to breathe.
In Japan, the benefits of being out in nature were so well recognised that in the 1980s, “Forest Bathing” became a national health program in the hopes of reducing the ever-growing number of stress-related illnesses. Taking yourself off for an hour to the peace of nature is enough to bring down the level of stress-causing cortisol levels, leaving you feeling mindful and refreshed and ready to face the world again with renewed energy.
And it’s great for nature too
When getting back to nature, our love for the beauty of rugged nature is reignited and with it, a newfound urge of wanting to protect it all the more. One study showed that people who spent the most time outdoors were more likely to engage in environmentally sustainable behaviour.
So why are you waiting?!
Switch off those screens, and whatever the weather, head for The Great Outdoors! Who knows what you might discover!