11 Mind Blowing Reasons You Should Be Spending More Time Outdoors
Hello reader! I’ve got a question for you. As a percentage, how much time do you think the average American spends outdoors? Is it 50%, 23%, 12%, or 7%?
If you guessed 23%, then congratulations! You are absolutely…wrong. Actually, you’re really wrong.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends, get this, only 7% of their life outdoors. Can you believe it? A measly 7%. That’s pathetic. And unhealthy.
Turns out, spending time outdoors comes with some pretty amazing health benefits for both adults and kids that you just can’t get when your stuck sitting inside all day busting out game after game of Candy Crush.
Care to find out what those amazing health benefits are? Great! Then go grab some organic natural sunscreen and your favorite pair of UV protection sun glasses, and let’s head outdoors!
11 Healthy Reasons You Should Spend More Time Outdoors
I feel like I could probably come up with a million and one different reasons you would want to spend more time outdoors. But for the sake of brevity, I’ll just stick with 11.
So, besides the fact that nature is absolutely amazing and beautiful, here are 11 other healthy reasons you might want to start considering spending more time outdoors, and less time inside in front of a screen.
Reason #1: You’ll Find Yourself Less Stressed
Take a second a imagine you’re sitting near a small stream away from it all. Imagine the sound the stream makes as it runs by you. Feel the warm sun as it hugs your skin. Feel the warm breeze in your hair and the grass beneath your feet. See the squirrels jump tree to tree. Watch as two ducks wade in the water down stream. Are you feeling even just a little relaxed?
Of course you might not have anything like this near you. But, fortunately, you don’t have to. Simply spending time outdoors, even if just at a nearby park, has been shown to boost your feel good hormones and decrease anxiety.
Reason #2: It’s A Natural Source Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is super important for a number of things including bone growth, cell growth, inflammation reduction, neuromuscular function, and even immune function. And where’s the best place to make sure you’re getting the vitamin D you need? Outdoors of course!
Although you can get some vitamin D from the foods you eat, research has shown that we get about 90% of our daily vitamin D from casual exposure to the sun. Woohoo!
However, this can be a little tricky as sun screens and protective clothing can prevent your skin from converting sunlight into vitamin D. So you’ll want to make sure to spend some ‘unprotected’ time outdoors for vitamin D production to actually take place.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much. Spending just 10 to 15 minutes outside a few times a day can do a lot for ramping up your vitamin D production.
Reason #3: You’ll Find Yourself More Active
There’s something about being outdoors that just makes you want to get up and be more active. Notice I didn’t say ‘exercise’. That’s not what’s important here. Just getting up and moving can do a world of wonders for your health.
Not only will you find yourself more being more active, studies also show that you’ll enjoy it a heck of a lot more than when trying to be active indoors.
Reason #4: The Air Is Fresher
Think the air is cleaner in your home? Think again. According the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the concentration of certain pollutants are between two to five times greater (and sometimes up to 100 times greater) inside than outside.
Even the California Air Resources Board estimates that indoor air pollution levels are 25-62 percent higher than outdoor levels.
This is largely thanks to chemicals from things like your furniture (yes, there’s a lot of chemicals added to furniture), building materials, household and office products, as well as mold, dirt, dust, and pet dander that gets ‘trapped’ in your house.
Although increasing ventilation will help, your best bet is to get outside to get some actual fresh air.
Reason #5: It’ll Improve Your Ability To Pay Attention And Boost Your Memory
Finding yourself getting fidgety? Having trouble concentrating. Then spending some time outdoors may be just what you’re looking for. And you don’t have to spend a lot of time.
One study showed that kids diagnosed with ADHD were better able to focus after spending just 20 minutes outside in ‘green’ areas.
In another study, researchers found that interacting with nature improved short-term memory by 20%.
Pretty cool if you ask me.
Reason #6: You’ll Feel More Energized
Time to put away the coffee and break out the…sun??? Yes! Our sun is one of the best natural energy boosters around. This is because it is the largest natural source of ‘blue light’ there is.
What is blue light? Well, ‘white light’, such as what is emitted from the sun, is made up of a spectrum of colors. One of these colors is blue light. And it’s this ‘blue light’ that acts as a stimulant and signals that it’s time to wake up and get going.
Seriously, try it. The next time you’re stuck indoors and feeling a little sluggish, try stepping outside for a few minutes and see how much better you feel. It works every time!
Want to read more about blue light and its affects on your health? Click here!
Reason #7: You’ll Sleep Better
This reason plays off reason #6 above.
Blue light from the sun acts as an important regular of our circadian rhythms or what is known as our sleep/wake cycles.
When you expose yourself to the sun, especially in the early part of the day, it signals to your brain that it’s time to wake up and get stuff done. However, the opposite is also true.
As the sun sets, and our exposure to natural blue light diminishes, this signals to your brain that it’s time to rest. Without these cues, your circadian rhythm can get thrown out of whack which can make it difficult to get to sleep at night.
During the day you want to expose yourself to as much natural blue light from the sun as you can. This will help regulate your natural sleep/wake cycle and leave you feeling more energized throughout the day.
If for some reason this isn’t possible, because of weather or being stuck in an office all day, a light box can be a great alternative. These work by emitting full spectrum light similar to that of the sun and are commonly used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in parts of the world where natural sunlight is often absent much of the year.
Want more tips on how to get a better night’s sleep naturally? Click here!
Reason #8: You’ll Find Yourself Happier
Spending time outdoors is a great and natural way to boost serotonin levels (the ‘feel good’ hormone) in the brain. And there appears to be a linear relationship. The more time you spend outdoors, the higher your serotonin levels.
Additionally, a Stanford study done in 2015 found that those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety, rumination (focused attention on negative aspects of oneself), and negative affect, as well as more positive emotions, such as happiness.
Reason #9: It’s Good For Your Eyes
Numerous studies have found that giving your eyes a break by heading outdoors comes with some great benefits.
In addition to experiencing less ‘dry-eyes’, research has shown that kids who spend more time outdoors are less likely to develop myopia (nearsightedness).
This is because focusing on objects at varying distances, rather than fixed on a computer screen, works different muscles in the eyes and allows more time for them to rest and recover.
Additionally, the blue light emitted from our electronic devices is harsh on your eyes, and can cause problem when steps are not taken to minimize your exposure to it. (Computer glasses are specifically made to block blue light and increase eye health.)
Reason #10: It’ll Boost Your Immune System
Studies show that spending time in nature can help give your immune system a sometimes much needed boost by increasing natural killer cell (white blood cell) levels.
Natural killer cells, in case you weren’t aware, play a role in attacking tumor cells as well as virally infected cells. Or in other words, they’re super important.
Perhaps what’s even more awesome is that this ‘heightened’ immunity was still present 30 days later!
Reason #11: You’ll Age More Gracefully
A study done in the Journal of Aging and Health found that older people who spend time outdoors daily function better day to day.
Participants in the study complained of less muscle and joint pain, fewer sleep problems, less urinary incontinence, and increased mobility.
Wow. Those are some pretty darn good reasons if you ask me.
Do you have reasons for getting outdoors that I left out? What do you do to make sure you get in your ‘outdoor’ time? Please share with us in the comments section below!
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