If this pandemic has made you a self-professed homebody, you could definitely benefit from a change of scenery. Spending time in nature helps you improve your physical and mental health, ward off illness, and actually make you happier!
As the Father of Western Medicine, Hippocrates, once said, “Nature itself is the best physician.” Here are some reasons to soak up everything nature has to offer and health benefits you can reap.
- BEING IN NATURE BOOSTS LIFE SATISFACTION If you’ve been feeling blue, visit somewhere green! A recent study found that men and women who spent just 20 minutes in a park setting reported a 64% boost in well-being. This does not include physical activity but adding movement while at the park adds a plethora of additional health benefits.
- SOAKING UP THE SUN ELEVATES VITAMIN D LEVELS Regular sun exposure is the best source of vitamin D. An estimated 40% of U.S. men and women are vitamin D deficient, which can lead to some pretty scary health implications, including depression, cancer, and osteoporosis. Committing to 20 minutes outside around midday is ideal as UVB rays reach their peak around noon.
- SPENDING TIME OUTDOORS MAY LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE Sunlight does so much more than boost vitamin D levels, It can actually lower your blood pressure! Researchers report that the nitric oxide present in the skin responds to the sun’s rays by widening blood vessels, resulting in lower blood pressure.
- OUTDOOR TIME CAN REDUCE INFLAMMATION Inflammation has been linked to a host of health problems, from autoimmune disorders to depression and even cancer. Various studies have shown that spending time in green spaces reduces inflammation.
- BEING OUTSIDE IS GOOD FOR EYESIGHT Spending time outdoors in childhood could lead to better vision later in life. A recent Canadian study found that spending time in nature greatly reduces the risk of myopia, more commonly known as nearsightedness. One-third of U.S. adults experience myopia, and one key contributor is a lack of outdoor time in childhood.
- OUTDOOR TIME IMPROVES SLEEP According to Stanford Medicine going outdoors could improve your quality of sleep. It seems that increasing the amount of time an individual spends outside helps to regulate body temperature, along with the sleep-wake cycle, otherwise known as the circadian rhythm.
- BEING OUTDOORS BURNS MORE CALORIES Whether you venture outside to relax or workout, you’ll burn more calories than if you had stayed inside. While outdoors, the body works hard to balance CO2 levels and consume oxygen, both of which require more energy, leading to a higher calorie burn. Outdoor workouts are particularly effective because the body must constantly adapt to the terrain. Plus, outdoor fitness tends to be more enjoyable, so you’re more likely to stick to a routine.
- NATURE RELIEVES STRESS, ANXIETY, AND DEPRESSION One of the best remedies for stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns is spending time in nature. Studies show that walking in a green environment lowers the stress hormone cortisol. While cortisol is vital for optimal mental and physical health, elevated levels have been linked to a menagerie of health problems, including anxiety, depression, memory and concentration problems, and even sleep disorders.
- OUTDOOR TIME RELIEVES PAIN NATURALLY Exposure to nature may be the best medicine for healing and pain relief. Research indicates that patients who undergo surgery experience quicker recovery and don’t require as much pain relief when exposed to green spaces. In addition to recovery from surgical procedures, “green exercise,” or exercising in nature, is suggested for chronic pain sufferers.
- SPENDING TIME IN GREEN SPACES BOOSTS IMMUNITY Research suggests that spending time in nature wards off everything from diabetes and ADHD to cardiovascular disease and cancer. This is largely due to the relaxed state that nature promotes. Forests are particularly beneficial for the immune system, as plants produce phytoncides, which have been shown to increase natural killer cells—a type of white blood cell in humans. Plus, sun exposure strengthens infection-fighting T cells.
- TIME OUTDOORS INCREASES SOCIAL INTERACTION According to Psychology Today, an active social life boosts feelings of well-being, as well as the immune system. Social interaction is also great for brain health, and can even ward off dementia. Spending time outdoors is a great way to connect with other people, whether it’s at the local dog park, beach, or sports field.
- THE GREAT OUTDOORS GENERATES CREATIVITY In everyday life, most individuals are on a constant mission to accomplish as much as possible, resulting in decreased focus. A great way to promote creativity is by unplugging and enjoying time in nature. Nature has the ability to restore attention, which can lead to improved creativity.
HOW MUCH OUTDOOR TIME IS ENOUGH?
Science suggests that spending 120 minutes in nature each week is ideal for optimal health and well-being. While getting outside daily could undoubtedly make you feel better, researchers note that the recommended two hours per week doesn’t have to be divvied up evenly. That’s great news for folks who live in urban areas, have limited access to nature, and those with hectic schedules. Whether you venture outdoors one day per week or seven, you’ll reap the rewards.
We also hope that by spending time outside, we’ll all appreciate nature more and work towards preserving it for future generations.
Body & Soul Massage in Salem Ma offers Therapeutic Massage for Pain Relief. To learn more about our Membership plan or Pain Relief programs visit www.bodysoulsalem.com or call 978-825-0040 HAS/FSA savings plans accepted.