In all honesty, Mother Nature can find the inner world hard to compete with at times. After all, they can’t provide flat screen TVs, air conditioning, or wifi. But it can offer something more important: better health, thanks to a stronger immune system, better sleep and reduced stress.
Spending time outdoors can improve physical and mental health in many ways. You don’t have to spend hours outdoors for these benefits to appear. According to a 2019 study of data from 19,806 participants, spending at least 120 minutes per week in nature can significantly improve health and well-being. You can spend two hours on it at a time or break it up into small daily portions, and the benefits are still there.
Even without greenery, spending time in the sun and fresh air can help you feel better about yourself and your body.
8 health benefits of spending time outdoors
1. Breathe better
Air pollution can lead to allergies, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses, which you may already know. But you may be surprised to learn that indoor air pollutant concentrations are often two to five times higher than outdoor concentrations. But spending more time in natural green spaces can help lower your risk of respiratory problems.
A 2016 study examining the relationship between local green space and mortality risk followed 108,630 women for 8 years. Compared to people with the least green space in their area, people with the most green had a 34% lower risk of dying from respiratory disease.
2. Improve sleep
In general, your body’s internal clock follows the sun, making you feel awake during the day and sleepy at night. Although artificial lighting can mimic natural light, direct sunlight is 200 times stronger than desk lamps in an enclosed room. Therefore, sunlight affects your circadian rhythm more than electric light.
Exposing yourself to the sun can improve your sleep:
Helping you feel more tired at night
Reducing the time it takes to fall asleep
Improve the quality of your comfort.
What is the benefit of sunlight? It costs nothing. For a daily dose, go outside.
Remember that sunlight must enter your eyes to affect your circadian rhythm. If you’re hoping to improve your sleep, a stroll on the beach may help you more than just a nap in a shaded wooded area.
3. Reducing symptoms of depression
Sunlight can often help relieve symptoms of depression, such as bad moods and fatigue. Light therapy can help treat major depression and seasonal depression. If you have social anxiety disorder, you may notice an improvement after a few daysTrusted Source . If you are severely depressed, it may take 2 to 5 weeks for you to see any improvement. Experts aren’t quite sure yet how sunlight affects depression.
Some believe that sunlight has a protective effect because it can help your body produce vitamin D. It’s also possible that sunlight improves sleep, reducing the severity of depression symptoms. If depression has exhausted your energy, you can still get out of the sun quite easily. Try to get your daily dose by eating breakfast, reading a book, or getting old-fashioned sunbathing, but don’t forget to use sunscreen.
4. More motivation to exercise
Exercising in green spaces can motivate you to exercise in the future, in part because exercising outdoors can:
– Change the pace of gyms and make physical activity more fun and enjoyable
Make socializing easier, as many gyms have unspoken rules that prevent chatting with the person on the treadmill next to you.
-According to 2013 researchTrusted Source that people who walk outdoors tend to exercise at a higher intensity and report less exertion.
You don’t have to do a tricycle or mountain ski to enjoy nature sports. Any activity that moves your body in a way that you can, such as gardening, playing with your dog in the park, or washing your car, may provide some health benefits.
5. Mental recovery
The modern world is full of intrusive stimuli. Flashing screens, vibrating phones, and rumbling roads all vie for our limited attention. This constant overstimulation can increase your stress level without you even realizing it. On the other hand, the natural world can provide a mental and emotional haven when you need to relax and recharge. In nature, the soothing attractions of your senses, from the scent of flowers to the music of birdsong, can grab your attention without draining your mental energy.
Research from 2020 suggests that spending time in nature can help you feel more relaxed and focused, especially when you take the time to notice your surroundings. To reap these benefits, you might consider engaging in slow-paced meditative activities, such as hiking in the woods or kayaking on the lake.
6. Enhance immune function
Spending time outdoors can help your immune system function optimally. Microorganisms in nature that are not dangerous can, in a way, do training exercises with your immune system, in order to prepare it for more serious infections. If you live in a completely sterile environment, your immune system may lose its ability to recognize what is dangerous and what is not.
He can then raise a red alert for any microorganisms he encounters, which can lead to chronic inflammationTrusted Source . So while soap is a great invention, getting dirty once in a while can be good for you, too.
7. Protection against myopia
There is evidence to suggest that children who spend a lot of time outdoors are less likely to be nearsighted or short-sighted. A 2020 study looked at 10,743 children ages 9 to 11 in Taipei. Researchers found that children who spent more time outdoors while at rest were 22% less likely to be nearsighted than their peers. Increasing the distance between the eyes, being close to work, and taking a break after 30 minutes of close work also provides some protection.
Experts have suggested some possible reasons why spending time outdoors may help protect against myopia:
Natural light provides a much brighter and richer range of visible wavelengths of light.
Being outdoors allows your eyes to practice looking at things from different distances.
The light stimulates the retina to produce dopamine, which prevents the eyeball from dilating and distorting vision. However, this theory has only been tested on animals.
This beneficial effect only appears to affect the eye as it develops, so spending time outdoors cannot reverse myopia in adulthood.
8. Improve emotional well-being
Time spent outdoors can do more than help relieve unwanted or distressing emotions such as fear, anxiety, and sadness. It can also help reinforce the feelings you want to feel the most, such as happiness, peace, and optimism.
And the default nature?
Soundscapes and photographs can provide an engaging backdrop that can help lift your mood and state of mind. However, they cannot completely replace the real time they spend in nature.
It’s not just the color green or the sound of ocean waves that have been shown to improve mood. Being in nature, with all its sights, sounds, smells, and textures blending together, seems to influence emotions more strongly than virtual replicas. Going out at night can also give you a sense of wonder and connection to the world. In addition, reducing noise and light can help you focus more easily on the world around you. If you want to form a deeper or more spiritual connection to the nocturnal natural world, consider nocturnal activities such as stargazing or night fishing.
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