It’s not called the GREAT outdoors for nothing! Being out in nature has some incredibly powerful effects on your health, both physical and mental! We’ve all experienced that wonderful relaxing feeling of laying on the beach or strolling through the woods. But we also know what an invigorating workout you can get outdoors. Let’s take a look at some of the amazing benefits of getting outside!
Increased Physical Activity:
There are endless ways to be active outside your home or the gym. The summer is the perfect opportunity to try new and exciting activities while also getting a great workout! Hiking, biking, kayaking and swimming are all great options. But don’t be afraid to explore other local options like a ropes course (GoApe in North Park is fantastic!). If you’re taking a trip to the lake or beach, water sports and even just running or walking in the sand offer some great active time! Just remember to stay hydrated as you will sweat more out in the heat and sun!
There is a calming presence of being out in green space. Being outdoors can reduce cortisol levels, which are often chronically high from stress and lack of quality sleep. It’s no surprise that a lot of meditation practices utilize imagery of the beach, woods, or running water to help aid in the process of centering and relaxing. Find a local spot that brings you peace and frequent there whenever you’re feeling a little stressed (or when you’re feeling happy!).
Keeps You Grounded:
Have you ever heard of “earthing” or “grounding?” The concept is quite simple – it’s when your body is in direct contact with the Earth. This means skin touching the Earth without any barriers such as shoes, socks, flooring, etc. In today’s digital age, most people rarely have time to practice grounding.
Earth has a mild negative electrical charge. Our bodies tend to build up a positive charge from the electromagnetic frequencies that are all around us – cell phone towers, computers, TV, etc. This slight positive charge creates an internal environment in our bodies that is more prone to disease. More and more research is showing that grounding can help to even out the positive charge with Earth’s negative charge leading to improved health.
Vitamin D is essential for immunity and bone health. When sun hits our skin, our body converts cholesterol into Vitamin D. We unfortunately do not get enough sunlight exposure year-round to get sufficient Vitamin D this way, so why not take every opportunity during the months we can??
Sunlight isn’t just important for Vitamin D. When our retinas are exposed to sunlight, our brain releases serotonin, often known as the feel-good neurotransmitter. This is the main culprit of seasonal affective disorder (otherwise known as seasonal depression) that people experience in the winter months. But if you’re not getting out during the summer months, that depression could last year-round. Sunlight is not the cure to all depression, but it can certainly be a mood-booster for those experiencing a small dip in serotonin levels that are causing them to feel down.
In addition to helping with serotonin levels, spending time outdoors can improve your sleep by helping regulate the circadian rhythm. Sunlight triggers the natural rise in cortisol throughout the day, which makes us feel awake and alert (this is normal – unlike chronically elevated cortisol from chronic stress). Darkness then triggers melatonin to help us sleep. Increased time indoors under artificial light and staring at screens greatly disrupts this balance. Getting outside and away from technology can help restore the natural balance to promote restful sleep.
As you can see, the outdoors truly is GREAT for your health! Whether you use it as time to spend with friends and family or as an opportunity to be alone and enjoy peace and quiet, make sure you are incorporating nature time into your wellness routine! Your mind and body will thank you!
If you’re looking for suggestions on how to incorporte more outdoor time into your routine, or have any other questions about your health and wellness, please never hesitate to reach out! We are here to help you Get Healthy and Stay Healthy for Life!