Research shows that not only do we spend too much time “plugged in” (did you know the average American household watches eight hours of television every day? Eight hours!). Unplugging and spending time outside has many benefits.
10 Reasons to Get Outside (Do you really need them?)
1. Feeds The Body Vitamin D
Hands down, the best source of Vitamin D is the sun. Why is Vitamin D so important? Vitamin D—actually a hormone—has been shown to support bone health, which in turn decreases our risk of suffering from certain diseases like rickets, osteoporosis, and osteomalacia. Certain research suggests that a lack of Vitamin D may also contribute to certain types of cancer, hormonal imbalances, obesisty, inflammation, and a weakened immune system, though more research is needed in these areas.
2. Aids In Sleep
Spending time outside will help you sleep better at night, and this is not just because you have (presumably) been more active. It’s because spending time in natural lights stimulates your body’s production of melatonin, which is a necessary hormone for sleep. Long days spent inside and then late nights spent in front of a screen can disrupt our natural melatonin production and secretion, but spending time outside can reset your sleep schedule so you wake up more rested.
3. Great way to Exercise
Not all exercise is equal. That may be obvious; running is more strenuous than walking. But did you know exercising outdoors has more health benefits than exercising in a gym? It’s true! Individuals who exercise outdoors are happier, more revitalized, and more likely to stick with their exercise program. Additionally, outdoor exercise tends to be more vigorous than indoor exercise.
4. Decreases The Risk of Obesity
The American obesity epidemic has exploded in the past few decades. This can be directly linked to spending less time outdoors being active and more time indoors sitting in front of an electronic screen. Did you know that the average child only spends 4 to 7 minutes outside in unstructured play as opposed to 7 hours in front of a screen? Since spending time outside means you are more likely to be active, it also means you will lower your risk for obesity.
5. Gives Energy
Spending time out in the fresh air and sunshine will increase your energy levels. This is because breathing fresh air increases your oxygenation and lung capacity. The next time you feel fatigued at work, try taking a break outside rather than reaching for that cup of Joe.
6. Sharpens Focus
Research has shown that children with ADHD have improved concentration skills when they spend time outside. If your daughter is suffering from this condition, consider outdoor time a necessary part of her daily routine. And you might find that it improves your own concentration as well!
7. Improves Eyesight
Nearsightedness often develops in childhood, and is certainly not helped by staring at a computer screen all day as an adult. But did you know that spending time outdoors can decrease this risk? Studies show that children who spend time outside have a decreased risk of developing myopia because they have a chance to focus on broad landscapes rather than screens and books set close to their eyes.
8. Encourages Problem Solving
Ever feel like the walls of your cubicle are closing in on you? Metaphorically speaking, they are! Hours spent staring at a screen, plugged in to work and social media, and being distracted by sudden actions can leave us feeling drained and unable to think. Spending time away from all of this and out in nature can replenish out Executive Attention, which allows us to switch from task to task, stay focused, and ignore distractions. And restoring our ability to pay attention means better problem solving.
9. Stimulates Creativity
Having trouble thinking creatively? Spending time outdoors can solve this problem too! Scientific and non-scientific research proves it! Why is this? While more research is needed, the scientific study suggests that our plugged-in lifestyle leaves no time for the brain to have fun and be creative. Going outside gives the brain a much-needed break to rest and relax, and that’s when the creative juices can start to flow!
10. Increases Immune Function
We all know that close, confined spaces increases our risk of contracting colds and viruses, but did you know that spending time in nature—the greener the better—can decrease that risk? The practice of Forest Bathing has been shown to increase the body’s immune function. A walk around your neighborhood is a good start, but a walk in the forest is even better, because it will increase your exposure to phytoncides, an airborne substance emitted by plants and shown to increase our immune response.
Save your chores and emails and Facebook posts for later. Do it with friends, daughters, colleagues. Do it alone.
Just open the door, feel that warm sunshine, and get outside!
by Caroline Johnson
Not to mention it develops independence and adventure, and is GREAT for relationships!