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With warmer weather around the corner, now is the best time to consider spending more time outside.
Outdoor recreation is enjoyable for all age groups, and gives so many opportunities for people to connect with nature while balancing physical and mental well-being.
We’ve compiled a list of seven reasons why doing outdoor recreation can benefit you, and why you should be going outside now.
Opportunity to explore outdoor workouts and fitness
Maybe your idea of a workout outside is a walk around the villages. Although this is a perfect way to get your outdoor fix while getting exercising, there are other outdoor recreation options you may be interested in exploring.
Whether your goal is to be alone or with a group, you can engage in activities such as hiking, canoeing, ball sports, and more. Outdoor activities provide you with a multitude of options to explore while keeping healthy and fit.
This can also relate to lower blood pressure, weight loss, weight management, and prevention of other chronic diseases.
You’ll get a better night’s sleep
Your sleep cycle depends on the workings of your internal clock. One way to fine-tune this internal clock is by spending more time outside.
Light naturally controls your body’s production of melatonin, which produces sleepiness. When you get time outside, and naturally receive more sun exposure, this light exposure naturally helps regulate your day-night cycle. This exposure to the sun is not dependent solely on whether or not you are being physically active.
However, you should take into consideration research that shows the benefits of regular exercise with sleep. It is shown that people who exercise on a regular basis have longer, deeper, and an even more restful night’s sleep than those who do not exercise. As a result, these people are more likely to be more alert and have more energy the following day.
Studies have shown an improvement in mental health
Arguably one of the biggest benefits of outdoor activity is on mental health. Researchers at the University of Essex in England are particular proponents of exercising while in nature. Through their investigations they have dubbed this form of exercise as “green exercise.”
According to studies conducted as early as 2010, getting as little as five minutes of green exercise correlates to higher self-esteem and mood. This makes sense since breathing fresh air in a calm, outdoor environment can help induce a state of calm.
In addition to a boost of overall mood, outdoor activities can combat anxiety and depression disorders based on information gathered by researchers at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
After systematic review of existing literature dealing with mental health and nature-based recreation, these researchers were able to confirm that nature-based recreation has the ability to improve mental health in areas such as well-being, resilience, restoration, and cognition. All of these can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression.
In 2015, a paper published in the journal Cognitive Behavioral Therapy went on to explain that exercise can even work as a treatment plan for people suffering from depression, anxiety, and more.
Although, remember that you should not try to tackle any serious mental health issues on your own. Talk to your doctor about incorporating exercise into your treatment plan.
It provides a great way to build relationships
Outdoor recreation is the perfect way to engage with friends, or even make new ones in the process! It gives you the opportunity to meet others who want to partake in outdoor activities and opens the door for these relationships to grow.
These activities can range from things such as hiking, bird watching, throwing a frisbee, and more. As you explore these activities you may also have the opportunity to enhance community pride through the use of public spaces such as public parks or trails.
Can help improve your quality of life
It is easy to get stuck in a busy daily schedule that limits your access to the outdoors. You may find yourself indoors constantly whether that involves your office or even the gym.
Do yourself a favor and find a way to carve out time during the week to do activities outside. Once you master the balance between the pressures of life with outdoor activity, you’ll notice more satisfaction with life in general.
In a report from the American Recreation Coalition, 90 percent of respondents who actively participated in outdoor recreation reported more satisfaction with their overall happiness in life. Going outside means more fresh air, greener space, and an overall happier you.
Can give you that needed creative boost
Do you ever hit that wall? You know, the wall that blocks you from writing another word, or using your imagination, etc? Participating in outdoor recreation may be just the thing to help your creativity to return and for your mind to crush that wall.
In a study published in 2013 in British Journal of Sports Medicine participants used a mobile electroencephalography (EEG) to record and analyze the emotional experience of participants who walked through a city environment (bars, malls) and green spaces such as parks. T
he study found that people experienced lower arousal, engagement, and frustration when entering a green space. Their entire mind was able to reach a state of higher meditation when the prefrontal cortex (the region in the brian in charge of complex cognitive behavior, personality, decision-making, and moderating social behavior) seemed to calm down. This is the perfect time for minds to wander, reaching into storehouses of memories and ideas.
So if you feel you need a creative recharge, all you may need is a 25 minute walk in green space. Maybe you could even try to bring your laptop or notebook during these walks and work while in a green space.
Your vitamin D levels will increase
Recent epidemiologic research is showing that vitamin D may actually have protective elements that can fight off things from osteoporosis to cancer to heart attacks and stroke to depression.
This disease warding vitamin is proving itself important, but people may not be getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D to regularly circulate through their bodies. Luckily, even 10 to 15 minutes outside in the sun a few times a week can help you get your body a healthy dose of vitamin D.
It is important to note that there are some snags with vitamin D. Firstly, vitamin D production is affected by a person’s age, for example people over the age of 65 produce about a fourth as much as someone in their twenties.
Secondly, natural skin tone has an effect on the amount of vitamin D in blood, as a result, African Americans contain half the level of vitamin D in their blood than white Americans.
Lastly, the use of sunscreen can have an effect on the amount of vitamin D is activated. Although sunscreen helps prevent sunburn, it also blocks UVB rays which seem to kickstart the generation of vitamin D in a person’s skin.
Overall, don’t overdo it with exposure to the sun without sunscreen, but light exposure without sunscreen will help you with your vitamin D levels.
So whether you are trying to get a good work out in, or simply want to read a book under a tree, we hope this list motivates you to carve out more time to be outside. You’ll find a happier and overall healthier you!