- Good and Natural Source of Vitamin D. The sun is the best source of Vitamin D, so when you are outside you are boosting your immune system, helping prevent osteoporosis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Sunlight has even been shown to help with depression, in decreasing the effects of diabetes, auto immune disorders, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease. Sunshine is a better source of Vitamin D than any supplement that you can take.
- Helps with your Eye Health. Constantly staring at computer, TV, or cell phone screens for prolonged periods can have damaging effects on your eyes. It can cause blurred vision, double vision, dry eyes, eye irritations, headaches, and neck or back pain. Simply going outside and focusing on objects that are further than a couple of feet from you can have rehabilitating effects on your eye sight. Also, artificial lighting has been shown to have a negative impact on nearsightedness. So going outside and exposing your eyes to natural light is much better for your nearsighted vision too.
- Fresh Air. Stepping outside to get some “fresh air” is more than just a saying to get you away or to clear your head. Fresh, clean air actually has a plethora of health benefits. The air outside is less polluted than the air you breathe indoors, especially in nature versus an urban landscape. Inhaling fresh air will help reduce the risks of heart disease, lung cancer, asthma attacks, and chronic bronchitis. It can also be uplifting and energizing to inhale fresh air.
- Grounding Effects. Being outside in nature has a calming and healing effect on people. Connecting with the earth and touching it helps ground you back to reality. We often get so caught up in our crazy world and absorb so much negativity into our lives that we forget to bring ourselves back to the present moment. The simple act of being outside, and even more so if you can kick off your shoes and walk around barefooted, has a very calming and grounding effect on us. It allows us to connect and be more present and aware of our surroundings in a positive way.
- Exercising. Who doesn’t remember having a good romp outside to get exercise as a kid? Whether it’s a run, a bike ride, taking your pup for a walk, or a friendly intermural sports game, getting outside to exercise is always more fun than hopping on a treadmill, stationary bike, or being indoors to do any type of workout. Shooting hoops on a playground is usually more enjoyable than inside a stuffy gym. So get outside and get moving!
- Mental Wellbeing. Like the “clear your head” comment with getting fresh air, going outside and enjoying the outdoors also has mental health benefits. It can boost your attention span, increase your serotonin levels (feel good hormones), and increases brain functions that correspond to empathy, love, and emotional stability. It can also help boost your creativity levels, promote inspiration, and allow you to think more clearly.
Probably like many of you, I remember going outside and playing a lot as a kid. Whether that was a friendly neighborhood game of tag or hide-in-go-seek, playing Mother-May-I or Simone Says, or having handstand contests in the front yawn. (Ok, my older brother was a gymnast and sibling competitions were always good fun.) Getting outside and playing was very common growing up. Riding our bikes, shooting hoops, running through an empty field, or whatever our imaginations could come up with, there was always an adventure or game to be had outside. Little did we know all the wonderful health benefits of being outdoors had on our life when we were kids. We tend to forget, that even as adults, we need outdoor time. Here are six health benefits of getting outside:
Truax, LMT is a graduate of East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland,
Oregon. She is licensed through the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and
a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. She has her own studio massage practice in the heart of downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.