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The Real Reasons To Get Outdoors

It is becoming increasingly obvious that we now exist in a society where people spend most of their time indoors, and worse still, in front of a screen. I can certainly appreciate that we all have to work and make a living and for the majority of us that occurs enclosed inside four walls and staring at a monitor for hours on end. Sadly, our children are also now slaves to the screen, with more and more schools utilising tablets as teaching aids, not to mention the endless computer games and TV shows that our kids are obsessed with.

One way to end this cycle of dependence on technology is to reintroduce nature and the big outdoors into our family life. Rather than scheduling the latest blockbuster movie or a bowling alley into our weekend leisure time with our kids, try exposing them to some good old fashioned ozone.

There are several extremely good reasons why reconnecting with nature is a great idea, not only because it’s free (usually) but also because of the huge physical and psychological benefits:

  • Vitamin D – sunlight provides us with vital doses of Vitamin D, the vitamin which helps to prevent osteoporosis and protects us against some forms of cancer. One recent study has also found an increased risk of heart attacks in those with low vitamin D levels. We still need to keep sensitive areas screened and wear a hat when we are exposed to bright sunlight but dappled sun, through trees for example, is a huge boost to our Vitamin D levels.
  • People who spend more time outdoors suffer less anxiety or depression –Those who work or spend leisure time outside, when tested against those who rarely spend time outside, have been found to enjoy an increased sense of well-being, they suffered less stress or negative feelings and felt generally happier in themselves.
  • Sleep disturbance – Fresh air certainly seems to make people feel more relaxed and able to sleep better. Sleeping better, makes people more alert and focused during the day which is a great side effect when you are back at work.
  • Spending time immersed in nature Improves Memory and Cognitive Function – Scientists believe that our brains were never built for the constant bombardment of information that we suffer from in the modern world. Many people are now suffering from mental fatigue and burnout. Spending time away from technology allows our brains to relax and return to a normal healthy state of functioning.
  • Exposure to Plants and Parks Boosts Immunity – We all know that plants produce oxygen without which we all die but apparently, plants have other benefits too. A series of studies have shown that when people swap their indoor lives for a few hours in more natural surroundings — forests, parks and other places with plenty of trees — they experience increased immune function.
  • Being in Nature Inspires Creativity – building dens and dams or simply climbing rocks and trees and rambling through fields and forests opens up our mind and triggers our wider imagination.
  • Energy and Fitness – Spending time outside tends to involve some level of exercise even if it is simple rambling. Exercise increases your fitness and the fitter you are the more energy you have to deal with everyday stress.
  • Communing with Nature Can Be a Spiritual Practice – For many people, spending time in nature brings a feeling of serenity, peace, and calm which cannot be replicated even with meditation when it is done indoors.

These are all very good reasons to make it a habit to spend more time outdoors enjoying nature; try to exercise outside as often as possible instead of going to the gym or have lunch outdoors, whenever possible, on work days and spend as much of your weekends as you can out in the fresh air. Whether you hike or picnic with friends and family or go for a long solitary hike, the health benefits of being outdoors are absolutely crystal clear.

August 11, 2017

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