People living today do not spend nearly as much time outside as their parents or grandparents did. The reason for spending so much time indoors has to do a lot with how people work. With so many people spending eight or more hours per day inside an office building, there isn't much time left to get outside.
Getting outside provides an abundance of benefits, however, so a determined effort should be made to get outside at least fifteen minutes a day as long as the weather permits. The following are just ten of the amazing benefits associated with being outside. If you're not sure how to squeeze those fifteen minimum minutes of outdoor time into your daily routine, be sure to check out the tips in the last section.
Benefits of Being Outside
- Improves mood. If you're feeling anxious, depressed, or even angry, getting outside can help improve your mood and boost positivity. Scientists aren't entirely sure why being in nature helps to boost a person's mood, but they believe it has a lot to do with being in the fresh air and sunshine (like most of the benefits listed here).
- Grants a daily dose of vitamin D. Recent studies have shown an astonishing percentage of the American population is deficient in vitamin D. The best way to get vitamin D is by directly exposing your skin to sunlight. Being in direct sunlight is significantly more effective at providing vitamin D than the alternatives of drinking cow's milk or taking a daily supplement.
- Increases the ability to concentrate. Studies have found people are better able to concentrate after spending some time outside. Improved concentration can directly increase productivity levels at the office or home.
- Enhances creativity. An interesting study showed that people who hiked for four days saw their creativity levels enhanced by an average of fifty percent. Enhanced creativity can occur in smaller levels at lower times outside, too, so spending time in the great outdoors might be just the thing you need for breaking that writer's block or formulating a new marketing plan at work.
- Decreases stress levels. Scientists aren't sure why, but being outside decreases cortisol levels significantly. Cortisol is known as the "stress hormone," and lowering levels of this hormone can lower blood pressure and heart rate, among other things. Keeping cortisol levels as low as possible is vital to maintaining great mental health.
- People are active outdoors. While most people sit around on the couch or in front of a desk while inside, they tend to be more active outdoors. Higher levels of activity help maintain a healthy weight, increase cardiovascular health, and can assist in weight loss efforts for those who are overweight.
- Fresh air is great for your lungs. Science shows that fresh air helps your lungs to work better. While those with seasonal allergies or asthma should be mindful when pollen levels are high, being outdoors is generally great for improving lung functioning.
- Nature is awe-inspiring. Most agree there is nothing quite as beautiful as nature. Endless mountain ranges, vividly green forests, and sandy beaches against bright blue water are awe-inspiring. These natural settings provide a dose of beauty everyone needs in their lives.
- Regulates your sleep/wake cycle. Being in the sun can help regulate your body's natural sleep/wake cycle, known as a circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is an internal clock that helps humans to fall asleep and wake at the appropriate times each day. A properly regulated internal clock means it will take less time to fall asleep, be easier to wake, and might even mean you experience less daytime drowsiness.
- Helps create more restful sleep. A combination of fresh air and sunshine will help to create more restful sleep at night. Independent of regulating your body's internal clock (as mentioned above), fresh air has been proven to help create a deeper, more refreshing sleep and prevent waking in the middle of the night.
Tips for Getting Outside with a Busy Schedule
Knowing the benefits of getting outside more is one thing, but doing it is another. People with busy schedules tend to be unsure of how they can find even the minimum of fifteen minutes daily (weather permitting) to get outside. Here are a few ideas on how to squeeze that quarter of an hour out of your day.
- During your lunch break, choose a food that can be eaten while you walk and take a stroll around the block.
- Park your car in the farthest parking spot to squeeze in an extra minute or two at the start and end of your workday.
- Sit on your porch for fifteen minutes before you leave for work in the morning or directly after returning home. This is the perfect way to de-stress at the end of a long workday.
- Create quality time with the family by playing outside. This ensures you spend time with your loved ones (an important part of every day) while simultaneously spending time outside.
- If you live close enough, ride your bike or walk to work instead of driving. This also saves money on gas and helps the environment.
- Choose exercises that can be done outdoors. Walking, hiking, bike riding, and swimming are great options. Doing yoga in the backyard, on the beach, or even on your deck can be especially relaxing.
- When the weather is appropriate, use the weekends to enjoy a barbecue or a bonfire.
- With your yearly vacation days, try to plan a camping or hiking trip with your family or friends. Not only will you spend significant time outdoors, but you will also be creating memories that will last a lifetime.
The average person does not spend nearly enough time outside. Compared to previous generations, this generation spends more time than ever inside their homes or places of work. An effort should be made to get outside at least fifteen minutes every day because the benefits are plentiful!
This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical issue or disease. The author does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of this article and will not be held responsible for the content of this article. The information in this article is not intended to replace a personal relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your personal health care provider for specific medical advice.