Many people enjoy spending time outside during certain times of the year. For example, some people like to go swimming or camping in the warmer months and skiing during the colder months. However, it is important to spend at least some time outside each week, regardless of the weather. This could mean going for a walk around your neighborhood, spending time at a park, playing an outdoor sport like soccer, or going for a long hike in the woods. Here are four great reasons to spend time outdoors.
- For Supported Immune Health
The immune system works to keep harmful germs at bay and helps keep people from getting sick with illnesses like colds and flu. Getting enough sleep, regular exercise, and proper nutrition is essential for ensuring that your immune system is as robust as it can be. For example, from the nutrition aspect, vitamin D plays a role in ensuring that the immune system operates at its best.
As long as someone eats a healthy diet that includes foods such as salmon, tuna, dairy, eggs, and fortified cereals, they should not have to worry too much about being deficient in vitamin D. However, many people do eat a poor diet and resort to taking a vitamin D supplement in order to get this critical nutrient. For these people, going outside and getting this vitamin from the sun could be beneficial. Sunlight assists the body with producing its own vitamin D, regardless of the foods that person eats or the supplements they take. Keep in mind that it is still necessary to use sunscreen with an appropriate SPF.
- For Physical Activity
Getting regular exercise helps with overall physical and brain health. Spending too much time indoors sitting in front of a screen can be detrimental to meeting physical activity goals. On the flip side, spending time outside often corresponds to being active. Some things to do outside for physical health include:
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- Swimming in a pool, lake, or ocean
- Running, bicycling, or jogging around the neighborhood or along a path
- Walking through a nature trail
- Cross-country or downhill skiing when there is enough snow cover
- Playing an outdoor sport with a partner or as part of a team
There are countless ways to exercise outdoors, whether you are alone or in a larger group. Take advantage of both summer and winter activities to ensure that you get enough movement every day of the year.
- For Mental Health
While the physical benefits of spending time in nature are clear, many people are unaware that there are mental health benefits to going outside as well. For example, being outside is correlated with having lower levels of occasional stress. Experts have found that being outside causes a drop in cortisol, which is a hormone that is associated with higher occasional stress levels. For some, maintaining a positive mood that being in nature brings causes further positive effects on mental health. For others, the corresponding increase in physical activity brings about lower occasional stress levels and supports mental health.
- For Sleep Regulation
The sun exposure that you get from being outside plays a vital role in regulating healthy sleep patterns. Getting an adequate amount of sunlight early in the day helps with being able to fall asleep in the evening and stay asleep through the night. Even if it is a cloudy or rainy day, being outside when it is light out can still assist with sleep regulation later. Going for a walk before or after breakfast is a good way to get into the habit of exposing yourself to the sun in the morning.
As always, follow all precautions when spending time in the great outdoors. For example, be aware of wild animals and don bug spray when appropriate. However, most people would agree that the benefits of spending time outdoors far outweigh any risks.