With technology playing a big part in our everyday lives, it can be easy to spend our spare time on the sofa in front of our TV and smartphones. But with so many benefits and positive effects to spending time outdoors on both our mind and body, it’s important to make the effort to get outside on a regular basis. Here is just ten of the many benefits of nature and spending time outside.
Increases Our Vitamin D Levels
One well-known benefit to being outside is the source of Vitamin D. This vitamin has many health benefits, reducing the chance of developing several diseases and helping with the development of strong teeth and bones. By being exposed to the sunlight for even as little as 15 minutes a day, our skin is able to produce Vitamin D.
Better Night’s Sleep
A surprising benefit to spending time in an outside environment is that it can help you to get a better night’s sleep. Natural daylight helps our bodies to regulate our sleeping patterns, making it easier to fall asleep. Being outside also often helps us to feel more calm and relaxed, producing melatonin which is a hormone that controls our sleep cycle.
We’ve heard the advice of stepping outside and taking a walk to help us calm down when we’re feeling stressed and emotional. But many studies have shown that this can have a genuine effect on how we are feeling and bring mental health benefits. Serotonin is a key hormone that controls our moods and increases how happy and content we feel. By taking a simple walk outside this ‘happy hormone’ can be produced, having a direct impact on our emotions, even reducing our levels of anxiety and depression as well as stress.
Feel More Energised
Often we can feel sluggish and sleepy after spending an hour or two sat on the sofa but being outside can have the opposite effect on our energy levels. Because the brain is stimulated and responsive to natural outdoor sensory, we can feel more alert and energised. This has also been shown to help improve our short-term memory too.
Exercise Can Feel Easier
If you’re not a fan of the gym, then you may find that your workouts feel more effortless and easier when completed outside. With the production of serotonin, we’re more likely to start our exercise in a positive mood which will help us to perform at our best. This also helps us to work out for longer if the physical activity feels less strenuous on our bodies.
Did you know that your eye health can even improve after spending time in nature? When we use our phones and devices, we have a much higher chance of developing dry eye syndrome and the blue light can also cause us damage. It’s advised to take regular breaks from the screen and focus on something outside in the distance to look after the muscles in our eyes. This is also key for children, who are likelier to have more sensitive eyes.
Helps You Think Creatively
There’s a reason why so many pieces of art and literature are inspired by nature and landscapes, the ever-changing environment provides unrivalled perspective and beauty. By taking a break from your work and getting a change of scenery, we can give our brains the opportunity to think differently and more freely. So the next time you’re suffering from writer’s block or are struggling with an assignment, spend a bit of time in the garden, at a park or just walking around your neighbourhood. Different scenery and some green space can also provide a welcome distraction, and so when you do revisit your work you’re likely to feel refreshed and ready to tackle it.
Quality Family Time
Taking a trip can also help us to feel closer and spend time together more freely as we make memories and experience good times together. You may also find that you become closer and bond with family members without noticing when enjoying some outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling or just sharing a picnic together. You could take it in turns to choose the next location for your family day out and get everyone involved in planning the day.
It can be easy to get caught up and become burnt out with the popularity of social media and constant continuous online content to consume. So taking the time to put down your phone and step outside can hugely help us to reflect and gain some perspective while taking a break from being online.
Keeps Your Heart Healthy
Research has shown that spending time outside can help to reduce our blood pressure and heart rate, helping us to feel calmer and relaxed. We’re also more likely to exercise when being outside, whether that’s a gentle walk around your garden or a peaceful cycle ride to visit a friend.
So now you can see why it’s so important to spend time outdoors, for both your physical and mental health. It’s a good idea to get into a routine of getting outside, whether that’s having your lunch break in the park, encouraging your children to play outside while at school or enjoying a book in the garden.