Spending time outdoors will improve your health in 9 fascinating ways
But while the idea of staying indoors sounds terrific to most people, the truth is, all of us could probably benefit from going outside every day.
Much like how meditation can do incredible things to our bodies, like boost your immune system and help alleviate allergy symptoms, going outside can have phenomenal effects on our health.
In an exclusive look below, we'll go through some of the ways that spending time outdoors can help improve your lifestyle.
In addition to decreasing stress levels, being immersed in nature will help you adopt a positive mood and an elevated state of mind.
Scroll further to read about the unique health benefits of spending time outdoors, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
1. Strengthens mental health
Whether you're taking a stroll during your lunch break, or joining a nature group hike, spending some time outdoors will very likely enhance your mental health.
A study from the University of Michigan showed that walking outside is strongly linked to lowered depression and stress levels.
A lot of it has to do with improving your outlook on life, and overall feelings of positivity. Being outdoors allows you more flexibility, more versatility, because it automatically gives you a change of pace and environment.
Next time you're feeling gloomy, don't stay cooped up indoors — go outside and get some fresh air!
2. Reduces stress
According to studies done by Happify, our bodies produce lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, thereby promoting a healthier state of mind.
Aside from creating a positive frame of mind, being in touch with nature helps boost our serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter in our bodies) levels, according toWebMD.
What's more, it also increases activity in parts of the brain that are linked to empathy, emotional stability, and love.
3. Increases memory and attention span
Studies have shown that spending time outdoors can help strengthen our ability to concentrate.
Scientists studied two groups of kids with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) — one that had spent time playing outside, and another that played indoors.
They found that the kids who spent time in green, outdoor spaces exhibited fewer symptoms of ADHD, even while both groups did exactly the same activities.
A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that walking outside also increases the level of productivity, as well as creativity.
4. Increases vitamin D intake
Interestingly, vitamin D can be hard to absorb from just eating food. In fact, we apparently get 80 to 90 percent of our vitamin D from actually soaking it from the sun, says Dr. Michael F. Holick, M.D.
It's so important to get outside and take in the sunshine. Not only is natural vitamin D good for our bone and cell growth, it also helps strengthen our immune functions, and helps reduce inflammation.
But because spending long hours under the sun can be dangerous, you should spend no longer than 10 to 15 minutes outside without any sunscreen on.
5. You'll age more gracefully
Studies published in the Journal of Aging and Health showed that spending time outdoors every day can help older people function better in their lives.
Participants in the study who were over 70 years old complained less of aching bones and sleep problems during the studies, and commented on increased mobility.
Other research showed that gardening outside or taking part in group-oriented hobbies can help dementia and stroke patients improve their social skills and confidence.
6. Strengthens immunity
Researches at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, Japan, found that women who had spent at least three hours outdoors every day saw an increase in the level of their white blood cells, which help fight viruses and diseases.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, M.D., a proponent of alternative medicine, also says that spending time outdoors has healing properties.
Older patients who spent more time outdoors experienced less pain, and saw a smaller decline in their ability to do daily activities.
7. Improves eye health
Going outside can do so much good for the health of your eyes.
People who suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), a problem caused by staring at the screen for long periods of time, may find that spending time outdoors can alleviate their blurred and double vision, red eyes, and headaches.
Many people are also overexposed to artificial light at home, and, according to a2007 study at Ohio State University, those who spent at least two hours a day outdoors were four times less likely to become nearsighted.
8. Improves quality of sleep
Poor sleep patterns can be caused by a variety of deeper issues, like insomnia, but they are generally regulated by something called the "circadian rhythm."
Our circadian rhythms (also followed by animals and plants) are naturally linked to the sun's schedule. Apparently, spending too much time indoors can greatly affect our natural rhythms, and, as a result, disrupt our sleep patterns.
That's why routine exposure to sunlight in the mornings will help correct your sleep cycle.
9. Improves self-esteem
In addition to lifting our moods and helping us feel positive, going outside, or getting some "green exercise," can lead to tangible improvements in self-esteem.
"You get a very substantial benefit from the first five minutes," said Professor Jules Pretty, a researcher from the University of Essex, "we should be encouraging people in busy and stressed environments to get outside regularly, even for short bits of time."
By just going out for a mere five minutes, you will experience an elevated mood, and an improved self-image.
Please SHARE if you would love to start spending more time outdoors!
More on LittleThings.com:
Learn how to make your gifts picture-perfect with this easy retail trick!
Whip up a batch of homemade gift tags with your home improvement leftovers!
10 holiday gifts that also give to charity
Add some seasonal sparkle to your look with these adorable DIY hairpins!