We spend far too much of our time indoors, busy at work or working in the house. There are so many things enticing us too stay indoors:- busy-ness, lack of time, lack of money, the weather – too cold, too wet, too sunny, too hot, too windy… As humans we are not designed for this indoor living. Recent reports have found amazing health benefits to spending more time outside in nature. Lets dive deeper and look at how to get outside in nature more and why we need to…
It’s about a 3.5 minute read, here’s a brief outline.
- The benefits of being outside in nature.
- Ideas for getting outside more
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The Benefits of Being Outside
Getting outside has so many positives which are beneficial to our physical, mental and spiritual health:-
- It de – stresses us in many ways
- We get to breathe in fresh air
- Connect with the world (rather than 4 walls)
- Connect with other people
- Connect with Nature
- Sunshine, we all need sunshine for Vitamin D
- Daylight ( we all need daylight to keep our circadian rythym strong) Click here for more on circadian rhythm and healthy sleep.
- Excercise or ‘move more’ (if you’re outside there’s a good chance you’re walking) Click here for more on why we need to ‘move more’.
- Looking at things of great natural beauty flowers, birds, views, plants, trees, sunsets…
Recent reports have shown many significant health benefits to spending time outside in nature.
Being in green areas – i.e. forests, woods, parks, gardens – has shown to be especially beneficial.
Research by the University of Easy Anglia has shown that being in green spaces such as these has wide ranging health benefits. The research looked at over 140 studies including 20 countries and 290 million people. It compared people with regular access to green space with those who didn’t. I’ve quoted there findings below, click here to read the whole article.
“We found that spending time in, or living close to, natural green spaces is associated with diverse and significant health benefits. It reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, and increases sleep duration.
“People living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress. In fact, one of the really interesting things we found is that exposure to greenspace significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol — a physiological marker of stress.
So just to list those benefits again for you:-🤓
- reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
- reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- reduced risk of premature death
- reduced risk of preterm birth
- improves sleep (good sleep is crucial for good health)
- reduces diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress
- reduces levels of salivary cortisones- a physiological marker of stress
Researchers involved in the study hope that the findings will encourage healthcare professionals to consider prescribing more time outside in green space for some ailments.
Scientists are unsure of the exact causes of these findings however research from Japan has some suggestions.
- Improved Immunity – The Japanese pastime of forest bathing has been researched. They have found that just standing in the woods (forest bathing) boosts your immune system.
This is due to various essential oils, generally called phytoncides, found in wood, plants, and some fruit and vegetables, which trees emit to protect themselves from germs and insects. Forest air doesn’t just feel fresher and better—inhaling phytoncides seems to actually improve immune system function.https://qz.com/1258538/just-being-outside-can-improve-your-psychological-health-and-maybe-your-physical-health-too/
2. The microbiome of dirt may act as an anti-deptressant
As the importance of the human gut and microbiome to our good health is becoming increasingly recognised, it’s now becoming probable that the microbiome of the natural world can affect us greatly too.
Research on dirt seems to be strongly suggesting a link with good mental health… Digging, playing and breathing in the dirt, it appears, is very good for our health…
While the scientists are trying to fathom out the Why’s I suggest you just do it. With health benefits like the above, it’s a no brainer…and no harm can possibly come from you spending more time outside in nature.😉
Ideas for Getting Outside More
It’s great to read the scientific research on the benefits of being outside in nature. However, if you’re like me and already spend time doing just that, you’ll already know this instincively.
You can FEEL how good it is for you, you get a real ‘feel good factor’ from it. A sense of wellbeing, an overwhelming joy to be alive. Its difficult to pinpoint what’s doing it, probably a combination of everything.
The fresh air, the natural beauty, the daylight, the wider horizon, the feeling of freedom, the feeling of connection, the feeling that all will be well…the dirt microbiome and natures essential oils…!!!
Here’s some easy and mostly free ideas to get you outside more… Remember to spend at least 30 minutes outside without sunglasses on to allow natural daylight in.
Although we do need the sunlight and daylight, there are benefits to be had by being outside at all times of day. So don’t rule out night time nature happenings either.
Exercise outside:- If we need to exercise and ‘move more’ plus we need to go outside more why not put them all together?
- Walking in the countryside/park/beach/hills and mountains.
- Running in the countryside/park/beach/hills and mountains.
- Cycling in the countryside/park/hills/ mountains
- Outdoor swimming. Preferably in natural organic water like the sea.
- Outdoor Sports like golf, surfing, kayaking, orienteering, paddle boarding…
Exercise in Your Own Garden
- Working out in your garden – bodyweight training, circuits, hiits, trx training, dancing, yoga, tai chi, pilates… Even weight training if you have the space and inclination.
- Gardening in your garden (dig up and breathe that dirt microbiome)
- Walking or jogging in your garden.
Just BEING Outside
- Take your morning coffee or tea outside in the garden. (or to the park).
- Take a pre work nature walk around your garden.
- Do your daily meditation in your garden or at a place of natural beauty.
- Walk or Cycle to work.
- Cut your commute short and leave yourself a 20 minute walk to get to work ie park 20 minutes away from work or get off the bus a few stops early.
- Eat your meals outside, weather permitting.
- Go out and marvel at the stars and moon at night. (connect with worlds beyond our own 🤓).
- Go outside to watch the sunset every night.
- Go outside to watch the sunrise every morning.
- Go outside and marvel at the clouds on a rainy day.
- Put on your wellies and raincoat and go out and enjoy the rain. Paddle and dance in the puddles and streams.
- Build a snowman, have a snowball fight go sledging etc when it’s snowing.
- Go fishing, apparently you catch more fish in the rain plus you will have a healthy wild caught fish for dinner. What could be better?
- Fly a Kite somewhere natural and beautiful.
- Forest bathing (standing in the woods).
What are you waiting for. Get Outside!
I would love to hear your own ideas and suggestion for getting out more in nature in the comments section below.
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If we get outside more we sleep better. Click here to read my recent blog post all about sleep.