6 reasons to be outside

We are genetically wired to be outside.

We find nature soothing and comforting. Being outside can be inspiring, and even more importantly, it’s great for our health. Let’s have a look at some of the many physical and psychological benefits we experience when spending time outside.   


1. Natural vitamin D from the sun

Vitamin D has great disease-fighting properties and it’s essential for a well-functioning body. This vitamin can also help you better absorb certain minerals, like phosphorous and calcium. 

Unfortunately, most diets don’t contain enough vitamin D. Although the vitamin is present in foods such as oily fish and egg yolks, about 90% of it comes from direct exposure to sunlight. You can get all the vitamin D you need by going outside and exposing yourself to the sun for 10 to 15 minutes, a few times each week. 


2. Helps fight stress and anxiety 

Elevated levels of cortisol, the main stress hormone, are linked to several health issues including anxiety, stress, memory problems and sleep disorders. However, studies have highlighted that walking in a green environment helps lower and regulate cortisol. 

Similarly, sunlight has been shown to increase serotonin levels, the main hormone responsible for happiness, stabilising mood and feelings of wellbeing. Increasing serotonin will not only help keep your mood positive, calm and focused, it will also help raise your energy levels. Put simply, being outdoors has a positive effect on your mental health and this helps you fight stress and anxiety.  

3. Improved short-term memory

Being outside gives you more opportunities to directly interact with nature. Research findings have shown that nature walks can have memory-promoting effects similar to those of meditating. In one study, a one-hour walk increased participants’ attention and memory by 20% compared with participants who spent the same time walking city streets.


4. Better focus

Daylight exposure and fresh air help to improve your memory. And as memory improves, so does your focus. 

People who go outside experience better focus, studies show. These studies show that both children and adults who have difficulties concentrating are better able to focus after being out in nature. The attention-improving effect of nature is so strong that it has been studied as a method for helping treat children with asthma and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  

5. Better sleep quality

Daylight and sleep are closely linked. Our sleep patterns are regulated by the circadian rhythm, which is essentially the body’s internal clock. It controls many body processes, including sleep. Its rhythm is controlled by a part of the brain that is significantly influenced by light exposure. 

While indoor light can make the internal clock go haywire, exposure to daylight synchronises the circadian rhythm to sunrise and sunset, making it easier to stay awake during the day and sleep when it’s dark.

Additionally, melatonin, the hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle, is regulated by the circadian rhythm. Going outside and getting some daylight exposure can help reset the circadian rhythm to give you a better sleep cycle. 


6. The automatic exercise

Going outside automatically makes you exercise. No need for a gym membership or any special equipment, just walking and burning calories. The beauty of walking outdoors is that the exercise tends to be more effective since your body has to constantly adapt to the terrain. Also, when you’re outdoors, your body will work hard to balance carbon dioxide levels while consuming energy, leading to a higher calorie burn.  

Whether you go outside to relax or as a workout, the automatic physical exercise you get has numerous benefits. For instance, it can decrease the risk of heart disease, strengthen muscles and bones, reduce body fat and improve balance. 

Venturing outside regularly is a great way to reap positive short - and long-term health benefits. Although research points to 120 minutes as the ideal minimum amount of time you should spend outside each day, every little bit counts. So whenever you can, head outside.

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