The great outdoors is an elusive realm for most people living in the developed world. In fact, the average American spends 90% of their lives indoors. This results in millions of people missing out on the health benefits of spending time outside.
While work obligations, managing a household, and getting your full eight hours of sleep makes it difficult to find time to go outdoors more often, the advantages of configuring your life to be outside as much as possible make it a worthwhile endeavor.
Here is a brief breakdown of the health benefits of spending time outdoors:
Benefits to Your Brain
1. Improves Short Term Memory
A study done by researchers at the University of Michigan revealed that walking outside in nature can actually improve your short term memory. This means that if you feel overwhelmed by work, you can take a brief walk at the local park – that is, if your city has one. The walk will make your brain feel refreshed and improve your working memory. This means that you will be more alert at work.
2. Lower Stress Levels
A study conducted in Japan revealed that being outside can actually help reduce stress. The 12 subjects of the study were sent out to a forest in the southwest of Japan to camp for three days. After those three days, the researchers measured the subjects’ adrenaline and noradrenaline levels – indicators of stress. The results of this experiment showed reduced levels of the said hormones. This is one advantage that shows the role of nature in addiction recovery. It’s no surprise Lake Arrowhead Recovery Center and other facilities noted for successful addiction treatment make a point to help patients get in touch with nature. Exposure to forests, wildlife, and other hallmarks of the great outdoors allows individuals to reassess their lives outside the influences and confines of their normal environments.
3. Increase Empathy
Ongoing isolation from the world makes us more susceptible to detachment and apathy. While understanding the nuances of empathy vs sympathy and other finer points of being a better person might not happen on a single hike, more time outdoors is likely to strengthen our bond to the natural world and all the creatures therein. This drives us to feel connected in ways which are difficult to appreciate when spending all our time indoors.
Physical Benefits of Enjoying Nature
1. Improves your Vision
Did you know that spending time outside can actually make your vision better? A study conducted in Taiwan proved that being outside can reduce your risks of being short-sighted. The natural light is just enough to properly bounce off your retina and improve your vision. If your eyes are okay, spending some quality time outside maintains the health of your eyes. Furthermore, you need a break from all the screen time.
2. Better Sleep
The thing about sleep is that it’s affected by natural light. The more you stay indoors, the more likely you are to take longer to fall asleep at night. This is because the natural sleep pattern is disrupted. That means that you need to expose yourself to the outside world if you want to maintain your body’s natural circadian rhythm.
3. Lower Your Risk of Getting Cancer
This one is a bit controversial, but it’s slowly gaining support from the medical community. If you go hiking for just 2 hours 30 minutes every week, you reduce your risks of getting cancer. Alternatively, if you already have the disease, engaging in outdoor activities can make you live longer.
The above are some of the health benefits of spending time outdoors. Therefore, teach yourself to take some time off from the busy city and just go camping out there in the forest. Bring your friends along if they are up for the idea. Do this every week, and you will notice the benefits mentioned in this article.