31 Dec 5 Reasons Why You Should Spend More Time Outside
With there being so many fun and interesting things that we can do from the comfort of our own home these days, a lot of us seem to forget that there is also a great, big world outside of the house.
And it’s not that most of us would rather be inside, it’s just that we can get caught up in our Netflix and our internet and forget about the fact that we actually like the outdoors. Technology is great and everything, but we need a bit of a balan
Our bodies aren’t built to be sitting non-stop all day and we are healthier when we come into contact with fresh air and sunlight. Even if it’s just for 20 minutes every day, you should always make time to go outside. Here are 5 reasons why it’s good for
1. It Helps With Anxiety & Depression
You’ve probably noticed if you’ve been dealing with any kind of stress or depression that you have little motivation to do anything. Depressed people tend to spend a lot of time cooped up in the house and this is only making things worse.
Despite a lot of research, no one is really sure why nature is helpful, but it probably just goes back to our earliest human ancestors. If you weren’t out hunting or gathering, than you died. It was simple as that and so we’re inclined towards nature and the outdoors.
If you’re unfamiliar with something called Cortisol, it’s the stress hormone and it’s the root of all our anxieties and plays a big part in depression too. Getting outside for your daily 20 minutes has been shown to significantly reduce cortisol in your system.
And of course, exercise is good for these issues too. It gives you something to focus on and work on which distracts your mind from whatever thoughts and emotions are bugging you. So you can combine both of these positive influences on your mind and go for a run.
2. It’s Good For Your Eyes
Specifically, being outdoors is effective in preventing myopia, or nearsightedness as it’s more commonly known. This is probably especially true nowadays that we spend so much time looking at screens.
There’s been screens for a long time of course but having computer monitors, laptop screens and phones barely a foot from our face is reducing the maximum distance that we are exercising our vision.
Myopia often takes root in childhood and adolescence although it can develop in adults too and oftentimes it does have to do with how we are using our eyes. You may have heard of the technique of focusing on something in the distance every 20 minutes while looking at a screen.
This is to make sure that your eyes don’t lose the ability to focus on distant things. Getting outside can help you with this. Provided you go outside and look at something other than your phone.
Even just going for a walk, you’ll find yourself looking around and focusing on distant things. A study conducted between two schools, one of which encouraged children to engage in more outdoor activities, supports this theory.
There was a significant decrease in the frequency of myopia in the outdoor-orientated school compared to the one that had no such encouragement.
3. It’s an Immune System Booster
Maintaining the functionality of your immune system is essential for your health, especially as you get older. Your immune system will start to wear down over time and you want to do everything you can to prevent that from happening.
A strong immune system means less time spent dealing with illness. Your diet and your lifestyle are important factors, but there are ways nature is helpful. Specifically, heading into the forest and hanging out there for a little while can boost your immunity.
This is a practice that is actually very common in Japan and it’s becoming increasingly popular in the rest of the world too. In Japan, they call it a ‘Shinrinyoku’, or a ‘forest cleanse’. The idea is that you treat time in the forest as a sort of aromatherapy experience.
The phytoncides that you will be breathing in such as a-pinene and limonene are volatile organic compounds and they help to relax your body but also aid in healing and strengthening your ability to heal.
4. Air Pollution is Less Prevalent
I’m not going to lie to you and say that the air outside is extremely healthy these days because it’s far from perfect. We are all causing an awful lot of air pollution and it’s really something we should be taking responsibility for.
But you can be certain that it’s a lot worse in your home, where all of the toxins and chemicals are trapped inside by the walls. At least it can disperse when out in the air and there are places you can go like the woods and the seaside where it’s cleaner.
You stay inside and you’re breathing in all of the pollution. It comes from so many different sources. Mold and mildew can grow, your cleaning products probably have some nasty chemicals in them, pet hairs are bad for you.
All of these things get caught up in the carpet or on the couch cushions and then they’re just constantly circulating. You can minimize air pollution in your home of course, but there will always be some toxins floating around.
It won’t kill you or anything if you have it under control, but it’s just better for you if you’re not spending all of your time inside and if you make sure you get out and get some fresh air everyday.
5. It Will Build Concentration Skills
You might think that being outside and letting your mind roam free with nature is going to inhibit your ability to focus, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Nature is often associated with ‘Attention Restoration Therapy’, because it’s believed to restore function to a specific part of the brain.
This is what’s called the prefrontal cortex-mediated executive attention system. Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to remember that part. All you need to know about is that it’s essential for creativity and concentration, but it gets worn down by overuse.
Natural environments are filled with softer, more calming sounds as opposed to attention-hijacking sounds like alarms and sirens. Too much stimulus is going to crow your prefrontal cortex and wear it down.
You should consider taking up a hobby that allows you to exercise focus while also being out in the fresh air. Gardening is a good one because it’s active, rewarding and you don’t need to go too far to participate in it.
So I guess what I’m really trying to say here, is stop reading this article and get yourself outside. Unless it’s dark or raining or you’ve got the flu or something, then you can stay here for a while.
But seriously, it will make such a huge difference to your health if you make the effort to spend some time outdoors every single day.