The Outdoors Are Calling
The weather hasn’t been the greatest lately but that’s no reason to hibernate. Here are 10 really neat and scientifically backed reasons to bundle up and get outside this winter.
A natural energy boost
If you’re craving yet another cup of coffee or hitting that mid-afternoon slump, a jaunt in the great outdoors may really be what’s in order. Research has found that spending 20 minutes outside can give you an energy boost equivalent to drinking a cup of coffee. And if you’re still looking for other energy boosting goodness when you come back indoors, try one of these coffee alternatives.
Exercise feels easier
Thanks to changing landscapes, fresh air and natural light, working out outside can feel less challenging. This is more likely due to a psychological boost than anything else, as changing and uneven terrain often adds an element of challenge to a work out. However, the views and serenity of the outdoors tends to take our focus away from the workout and how much time we have left, enabling us to enjoy it more.
It’s good for your vision
Let’s be honest, anything that pulls our eyes away from a screen is probably good for our vision. But more than that, research has actually found that elementary school aged children who spend more time outdoors are less likely to develop nearsightedness.
An immune system boost
There’s something about fresh air and sunshine that does a body good. But that’s not all. Researchers believe that breathing in phytoncides (airborne chemicals produced by plants) increases our levels of white blood cells. This means that while phytoncides protect plants from rotting and insects, they also offer benefits for us humans as well.
Enhanced creativity and focus
If you’re experiencing a creative block, outdoors is the place to be. Thanks to a boost in energy and focus, taking a break and getting outside will help get you over this hurdle as several studies have found nature therapy helps improve cognitive function and releases creativity.
A daily dose of vitamin D
While we can receive vitamin D from certain foods – such as salmon, egg yolk and fortified milk – this typically only accounts for a very small portion of our daily intake. Casual exposure to sunlight on the other hand, offers over 90% of our vitamin D. So making time for a stroll outdoors is always a good idea. This sunshine vitamin helps build stronger bones by increasing the absorption of calcium. It also improves the function of muscles, which can improve your balance.
Improved short term memory
If you find yourself asking “what was I doing again?” a break is likely in order. And various studies have found that taking a walk in nature has memory-promoting effects that other types of walks just can’t measure up to. It’s true. A walk on the treadmill or through the city just won’t offer the same results.
Calming and relaxing
What is it about a body of water or green space that makes it so calming? The verdict is still out on the exact answer, but research continually suggests that these natural settings do, in fact, offer a calming and relaxing effect. The theory is that it has to do with our senses; pleasing scents, beautiful sights and calming sounds work together to give us a feeling of serenity.
Improves your mood
Whether it’s the winter blues, a rough day or a general feeling of ‘blah’ that’s getting to you, a dose of nature can help turn things around. Studies have found that a simple walk in the woods can decrease levels of anxiety and bad moods, and the presence of water made the positive impact even stronger.
It makes us better people
When you’re calm and relaxed, able to focus and let things go, and overall just happy… you tend to be a better person. The effects of nature on our well-being are huge. And the impact is residual; according to psychologists, when we’re happy with ourselves it’s easier to be kind to others.
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