How Being Outdoors Makes You Healthier

How Being Outdoors Makes You Healthier

It seems as if many people have completely forgotten about the importance of spending time outdoors and that is hardly surprising. With so much work, commuting, looking after the kids and performing all those dull, yet necessary, house chores, it’s really hard to find time to leave everything and go out.

Some studies reveal a staggering result when it comes to the amount of time we spend indoors. Believe it or not, we are currently spending an average of 90 percent of the time indoors! Though it may be logical, it still doesn’t mean it’s right. Spending so much time indoors can have some serious impact on our health and the health of our kids.

If you’re not scared of the potential danger, just take a look at the benefits that a change in your behaviour would bring and focus on the positive aspect. Perhaps they would motivate you to find time to go out more often and improve your and the health of your family.

Less polluted environment

We hear so much about air pollution and the measures taken to combat this problem, but people rarely discuss indoor air pollution. There is no excuse for this negligence, since studies show that the concentration of some pollutants is usually several times higher inside your home or office than outdoors.

Not only that, but the indoor pollutants are now known to be among the top five environmental risks to public health. Just think about carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and flame retardants, for example. All the chemicals found in furnishings, construction material and household product emit particles, which fill up the air inside your home and when you add mould, dirt, pet dander and dust to the mixture, you can see how serious the problem is.

Reduce your stress

With stress being one of the major issues in the modern world, we need to do whatever we can to reduce exposure to stress as much as possible and deal with it successfully. One of the ways to do that is to spend more time outside. Even a quick, short walk will make you feel much better. Th result will be even better if you take a walk in a green area, because this color will help put your brain in a meditative state.

Ideally, you should spend time in a forest, because a walk in the woods would also reduce the level of cortisol, i.e. stress hormone, which would lead to a much lower level of anxiety and stress. Finally, you can also expect your blood pressure and heart rate to go down, unlike your mood. It comes as no surprise that more and more people are trying to enjoy this “forest bathing”.

Improved eyesight

Spending too much time indoors probably means you’re looking at screens more than it’s good for your eyes. You might have to stay glued to your computer screen or watch a lot of TV when you get home, but it all puts a lot of strain on your eyes. The worst thing is that we are all witnessing our kids spending countless hours in front of a screen, instead of playing outside with their friends.

One of the biggest problems with this trend is that most harmful effects on our eyesight are irreversible, which means our kids will be having problems with their eyesight their whole life.

Scientists have also established, beyond any doubt, that kids who spend more time outdoors are less likely to suffer from myopia or dry-eye syndrome. The explanation is very simple. Instead of constantly being focused on things and people close to us, our eyes get to exercise looking at more distant objects, which means different muscles are engaged, which allows your eyes time to relax and recover.

Vitamin D is important

Vitamin D deficiency is one of the problems associated with not spending enough time outdoors, i.e. being exposed to direct sunlight. The amount of vitamin D we take with our food is not enough to meet the requirements of our bodies. Again, scientists have confirmed that a low level of vitamin D is in direct correlation with spending too much time indoors.

The problem doesn’t end with a “simple” vitamin deficiency. There is also an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and depression, to name but a few. So, with no better source of vitamin D than the sun, it’s time to get out and try to get at least 15 minutes of direct sun exposure.

Sleeping better

We all know how important sleep is and how tired and cranky we feel when we don’t get enough of it. Spending a lot of time indoors affects your body’s natural rhythm and sleep cycle, which can be quite detrimental. Your sleep pattern is bound to improve if you manage to spend more time outside, especially if you are exposed to the sunlight.

Even if you are unable to run or walk for some reason, you can always hop on one of those fancy, reliable electric bikes to get you from point A to point B without you breaking a sweat. What is important is to leave your home and office as often as possible, for as long as possible. Remember that those who go out more often sleep better, usually don’t have problems falling asleep and they feel more refreshed in the morning.

It’ll make you happy

Mental health is equally important as physical health. When you go outside, the level of serotonin, a.k.a. “feel good” neurotransmitter, rises, which means you’ll feel good and happy more often and for longer periods. That also means you’ll be less likely to become depressed and won’t have to take pills to make you feel better. Also, you’ll significantly reduce the chance of having to visit a therapist, which means you’ll save some money as you get healthier and happier.

There are other benefits of spending more time outdoors, such as improved immune system, but these are probably the most important ones, which should be more than enough to make you consider your routine and do your best to spend more time outdoors. In doing so, you’ll also set a very good example to other members of your family, which means more benefits will be enjoyed in the future.