Why Spending Time Outdoors is Great for Your Health

It's a fact: most people spend way too much time indoors, in front of their TVs and computers. Also a fact: spending more time outdoors has been scientifically proven to make you healthier.

The correlation between health and being outside is an ever-growing conclusion. More studies are being conducted to prove mental, physical and scientific benefits of the human body to being outdoors.

In a study by the American government, Americans spend near 90% of their life inside. The older we get, the more inclined we are to want to stay inside.

However, research is showing that the more time we spend outside, the better our overall mental and physical health becomes. From mental focus and improvements to mood and self-esteem to improvement in eyesight and healing, being outside has tremendous benefits.

Mental Benefits

Green exercise is workouts and exercise done in the presence of nature as opposed to exercising indoors. Doing your exercise outside might be just what you need to see vast mental benefits. Improved focus, mood, and self-esteem have all been reported in studies from being outside or doing green exercise.

Focus

Multiple studies and surveys have found an overwhelming increase in focus and mental aptitude by those that spend time outside. In one study, three groups were given mental tasks to deplete their mental focus.

One group was then sent outside for a walk, one group walked inside, and the third just relaxed indoors. The results showed that the group that went outdoors was able to focus and scored higher on proofreading tasks after the break.

The Journal of Attention Disorders (2008) also claims that children suffering from ADHD show improved mental focus and abilities after being exposed to the outdoors. After just a 20 minute break at an outdoor park, the study children showed marked improvement in concentration.

Mood and Self-Esteem

Nature also shows an improvement in our mood and self-esteem. Researchers at the University of Essex in England in 2010 report “results from a meta-analysis of their studies that showed just five minutes of green exercise resulted in improvements in self-esteem and mood.”

Natural light improves your mood, and you will find more natural light outside than you will indoors. Being able to go outside for even short amounts of time will increase your overall mood and emotional state.

Health

Aside from your mood and mental focus, engaging in outdoor activities on a regular basis has benefits to your health as well. Vitamin D increases in the body healing itself and other exercise benefits have all been linked to exposure to the outdoors.

There have even been links to improved health from just being able to see outside or pictures of inspiring nature scenes. The power of the great outdoors has been proven over again by studies conducted more frequently.

Vitamin D

When the sunlight hits the skin, the circuitous process begins. Once the kidneys and liver get involved, the vitamin D from the UVB spectrum of the sunlight helps the body fight and prevent diseases.

Biological vitamin D has been linked to protective effects against stroke, heart attacks, osteoporosis, depression and even cancer.

While the effects of sunblock and age can prevent the absorption of vitamin D through the skin, short-term exposure without sunscreen (10 to 15 minutes) will allow the body to absorb and circulate enough vitamin D to provide the benefits.

Increased Healing

Recent studies have shown that while healing after surgery or injuries, being outside can increase the self-healing aspects of the body and promote a faster recovery time.

Even patients in the hospital with a view of nature had faster recoveries than those that had windows overlooking parking lots or brick walls.

Going for short walks in the forest or natural places with great scenery were reported among the most beneficial aspects of a speedy recovery; even going so far as to have both physical and mental improvements in patients that merely looked at awe-inspiring photographs of nature.

Exercise

Being able to get exercise outdoors is far better for your health and well-being than doing so inside. Walks runs and jogs outside show marked improvement than being on a treadmill.

While any exercise is great, pairing it with the outdoors only works to increase the effects in our bodies. Inflammation decreases with outdoor activities, which prevents the body from working too hard and causing other side-effects such as autoimmune disorders, depression and even cancer.

According to the Biomedical and Environmental Services study in 2012, students who spent time in the woods showed less inflammation and stress than did the students who spent time in the city.

Science

Science goes a long way to prove the hypothesis and test theories on the effects of nature and the outdoors on the human body. As such, they have established correlations between nature and green exercising and health benefits.

Grounding

Because the human body is a positively charged entity, there have been tests on grounding. The earth is a negatively charged object, and we can absorb the negative ions through the soles of our feet.

Going out and walking in dirt, sand or mud barefoot has shown to restore a harmonious balance in our electrical charge; this is called grounding.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola: “The effect is sufficient to maintain your body at the same negatively charged electrical potential as the Earth. This simple process is called “grounding” or “earthing,” and its effect is one of the most potent antioxidants we know of. Grounding has been shown to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, enhance well-being, and much, much more.”

EyeSight

Being outside on a regular basis has also shown signs of keeping vision healthy. Particularly in children.

One study in a high myopia (nearsightedness) distinct area, children in one group were sent outside daily while the others were kept in their regular routine of staying inside for school breaks and recess.

By the end of the study, myopia in the outdoor students was over 50% less than the indoor ones.

Whatever the reason, or the benefit, nothing can replace going outside. You will get more exercise, more vitamin D, and much better overall health and physical benefits.

Spend some of your day, every day, outside and if at all possible, barefoot.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Fact: spending more time outdoors has been scientifically proven to make you healthier.