Would you spend more time outside if it improved your mental and physical health?
Research has shown that it does that in spades. We’ve collected the findings of all the studies on this topic and compiled them here for easy reference.
1. Your Vitamin D Production Increases
Lucky for you that getting outside and in the sunlight means that your body starts producing more vitamin D on its own. Just getting out in the sun a few times a week in the summer for 10 to 15 minutes per day is enough to get your body making all the vitamin D that it needs.
And the older you get, the harder it is for your body to make it. So, get out there and talk a short walk each day.
2. You Get More Exercise
With the majority of people living a primarily indoors life, it’s easy to see how getting outside means that you’re getting more exercise.
Even if you’re just out tinkering in the garden, those motions result in you getting more exercise than on the days when you’re living your best indoors life.
3. Your Happiness Level Increases
Maybe it’s the exercise. Or maybe it’s the sunlight. Or maybe it’s the sights and sounds of nature. Or the fresh air.
No matter what it is, studies confirm that being outside in nature causes a boost in your happiness. That’s right, being outside makes you happier.
This mental health benefit is even more true if you’re exercising outdoors.
4. Your Concentration And Focus Improves
If you’re having trouble concentrating and focusing on tasks, like work, then a stroll outside is just what you need to fix that concentration problem.
Studies done on children with ADHD show that the kids perform better on concentration tests after a walk through the park.
5. Your Pain Level Decreases
Studies done in hospitals on post-surgery patients show that natural light and a view outdoors result in less pain and less need for pain medication.
In those studies, the view that patients had from their hospital bed mattered. Those with a view of a brick wall or building did not show the same pain decrease as those who has a view of nature.
6. Your Anxiety Lessens
If you have trouble with anxiety, then a bit of nature will do you good. Studies show that anxiety lessens not only when people are outside, but when they look at a picture of nature or even at an actual plant.
Sunlight is the most effective at relieving anxiety. It works to keep your serotonin levels up, which keeps your energy level up while keeping you calm and focused.
This benefit is compounded by exercising outside because then you get the benefits of nature and exercise on reducing anxiety.
7. Your Need For Community Gets Met
When you’re outside, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll be around other people. You might not interact with them, but just seeing them and being around them gives you that sense of community that your mind craves for positive mental health.
And if you do interact with people, then you get that social benefit that boosts your mental health.
8. You Sleep Better
Quality sleep is an important part of your overall health, and nature helps you sleep better. The main reason for this is that being outside helps reset your body’s natural sleep cycle.
This benefit is even more noticeable for older people, who tend to have more sleep problems than younger people.
9. You Have Better Self-Esteem
Studies show that if you’re outside and partaking in a relaxing activity like riding a bike or walking, then it can improve your self-esteem.
The same results don’t appear with high intensity activities, so remember to stick with relaxing activities.
For an even greater benefit, do your activities near green space or water.
10. Your Immune System Gets Stronger
In addition to the vitamin D production, which helps your immune system, nature has more to offer when it comes improving your immune system.
Plant have organic compounds called phytoncides that they put into the air outside. So, when you’re in nature you end up inhaling these compounds and they boost the functions of your immune system.
Research has also shown that sunlight basically turbo boosts your body’s T cells, which fight infections.
11. You Get A Boost In Creativity
Numerous studies have shown that simply being in nature makes you more creative. More specifically, being outside improves your creative problem solving skills.
The more time that you spend outside, the greater this benefit is for you.
12. You Keep A Healthier Body Weight
Though you may not be looking to lose any weight, being outdoors helps you keep a healthy body weight by way of improving your sleep and getting you active.
These things burn calories, which keeps your weight a healthy one.
Studies show that the earlier you are outside, then the more benefit you get from this. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of time outside between 8 a.m. and noon.
13. Your Short-Term Memory May Improve
A University of Michigan study on nature walks showed that a walk in nature improved participants performance on a test by 20% compared to a group who walked in the city.
A similar study came to pretty much the same results. In it, the group who walked in nature got more of a memory boost than the group who walked in urban environments.
14. Your Stress Levels Improve
If you feel stressed out and need a way to lower your stress levels, then the answer may lie just outside your front door.
One study shows that people who spend just two nights in the forest see their cortisol levels drop by a significant amount.
But you don’t have to go camping to experience those benefits. Researchers have seen a decrease on cortisol and heart rates just from spending time in the forest.
Even if you’re sitting at your desk at work and looking out the window at nature, you’ll experience a reduction in stress and feel overall more satisfied about your job.
15. You Have Less Inflammation
We all know that inflammation is not good for the body and can cause all sorts of health issues. Luckily, a little bit of nature works to reduce inflammation.
In a study focused on students, researchers discovered that a little time in the forest reduced inflammation compared to those who spend time in the city.
In a study focused on the elderly, researchers found that a trip to the forest resulted in lower inflammation levels.
16. Your Mental Fatigue Improves
Know that feeling when you’re working hard and your brain just hits a wall and can’t do it any longer? That’s mental fatigue and nature can help you out with that.
In one study, all the participants had to do was look at a picture of nature to get their mind back in gear. Pictures of the city did not product the same results.
Researchers think this has something to do with that feeling of awe that comes from experiencing natural beauty.
17. Your Depression Symptoms Improve
If you’re experiencing depression, then some time in the forest might be just the medicine you need to improve your mood.
In one study, participants reported an improvement in their bad mood after taking a walk in the forest. Another study concluded that outdoor walks are a good supplement to existing depression treatments.
The effects are even greater when water is present as well.
18. Your Vision May Benefit
Though it’s only been studied in children, researchers have found that children who spend time outdoors have lower instances of near-sightedness (myopia) than children who did not spend time outside.
Researches believe this may protect the eyes of children and adolescents, as well as limit the progression of myopia in this age group.
19. Your Blood Pressure Improves
If you suffer from high blood pressure, then regular nature walks might be just the medicine for you.
Numerous studies have show that nature walks lower blood pressure.
In one study, researchers saw a 4% drop in participants pulse and just over a 2% drop in blood pressure after a walk int the forest.
20. Your Cancer Risk May Lower
Though not a lot of research has been done on this topic yet, early results are showing a connection between cancer prevention and nature.
A recent study shows that the production anti-cancer proteins in the body is stimulated by a walk in the forest.
A similar study suggests that the boost in production of those proteins can last up to a full week after a trip to the forest.
Studies in Japan have shown that areas with more forest coverage have lower mortality rates, suggesting that there might be something to this forest cancer prevention hypothesis.
21. Your Risk Of Early Death Reduces
A study out of the Netherlands focused on urban residents found a direct correlation between green space and people’s health. And that the elderly and the youth benefit the most from the green space.
In a follow-up study, those same researchers found that people who live close to a green space experience lower incidences of a wide variety of diseases.
A different study came to similar conclusions – that exposure to green vegetation is linked to a 12% lower mortality rate in women. The most significant findings in this study were lower risk of death from cancer, lung disease, and kidney disease.
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