Stress ReliefDid you know that spending time outside is helpful in relieving stress? It's true! One study even found that both the heart rates and cortisol levels in participants who spent time in the forest decreased compared to those who spent time in a city. Fortunately, there's enough forest to go around, too. In fact, almost 33% of U.S. land is made up of forests. That means you'll have no shortage of outdoor space to spend time in. So if you're feeling stressed out by work, current events, your home situation, or anything else, try taking a walk or sitting outside to read. You just might be surprised at how much better you feel after spending an hour or two outdoors.
Better ImmunityOne of the biggest benefits of being outside is heightened immunity. While this immunity might not protect you from highly contagious diseases, it's safe to say your next cold might be the mildest one you've ever had when you regularly spend time outdoors. It's been proven that white blood cell counts remain heightened for more than 30 days after spending three days or more outdoors. White blood cells are crucial in your immune response to viruses and bacteria. And when there are more of them, you're less likely to get sick. Planning your next camping trip just might have more benefits than you think. Not only will you be strengthening your connection to nature, but you'll also be strengthening your body's ability to fight germs.
Encourages a Healthier DietIf you're looking for a hobby to get yourself outside more, you could consider swimming, which is the fourth most popular recreational activity in the United States. Or you could get into gardening, which not only allows you to get outside and spend time in nature, but it also allows you to grow your own food if you want. Many people tend to flower gardens, but vegetable gardens are also quite popular. And when you can eat veggies that you grew right in your backyard, you'll probably be more likely to eat them often. Even engaging in more outdoor physical activity can help encourage healthy eating habits. When you fuel your body with foods that make you feel good, you'll typically find that fruits and veggies are a part of that picture.
Less Mental FatigueAfter you've been staring at a screen all day, whether for work or play, your brain can start to get a little tired. You might have trouble forming a thought or keeping a single train of thought. This phenomenon is called mental fatigue, and spending time outside is one of the best ways to combat that. In fact, one study proved that even looking at pictures of natural environments can help minimize mental fatigue. Of course, the best avenue to pursue is actually spending time outside. Taking a short walk around your neighborhood, sitting outside on your front porch, or even sitting next to an open window and breathing in the fresh air could help you reduce mental fatigue.
Encourages a Healthier LifestyleOdds are that when you're outside, you're getting up and moving. When you do this often enough, you can start to see the effects on your lifestyle. Engaging in the healthy habit of getting active and getting outside just might inspire you to engage in other healthier habits elsewhere in your life. For example, you might want to start taking supplements to have a more well-rounded nutritional system. Do keep in mind, though, that supplements taken orally only have a 50% absorption rate.
Better SleepAnother key benefit of spending time ou
tside is that you'll likely sleep better at night. Not only is this a side-effect of getting active, but the calming effect of nature can help you fall asleep more easily. It's a good thing, too, because your body needs at least eight hours of sleep for proper function during the day. If you haven't been sleeping well or you have trouble falling asleep, try spending an hour outside every day. Whether you're out running or just sitting in the backyard, you'll definitely notice a difference in the quality of your sleep.
Getting outside is one of the best things you can possibly do when you're confined to your local neighborhood. Even just standing on your front porch can help achieve some of the benefits listed above. And if you want to use your time outdoors to get active and develop a healthier lifestyle, you'll reap all of these benefits and more. So how will you be spending your time outside?