In our digital world, sometimes it is easy to stay inside and miss the beauty all around us. I know this is true for me. I am not much of an outdoors person, but lately the weather has been so beautiful here in Texas that I am trying to be more mindful and spend some time outside.
It can be difficult, especially with an indoor/desk job to take a moment and go outside. However, there are numerous health benefits, as long as you aren’t baking in the sun for too long.
Going outside and enjoying nature has been proven to lower your stress level. Whether you go for a walk, spend some time in the garden, or just feel the grass between your toes, there is something about being outside that is relaxing and lowers your heart rate. In addition, going outside reduces your cortisol level, which is the stress hormone.
In just five minutes walking outside, you will start to feel happier, according to the Environmental Science & Technology journal. Walking outside or doing any type of exercise (even light exercise) doubles up on the mood enhancing properties of being outside. Plus, studies show that people think of exercise as being easier outside because it reduces their stress levels.
If you have followed this blog, you know that I am always looking for ways to reduce chronic inflammation, as it is the root cause of so many health problems. Going outside is a very easy way to reduce inflammation.
We all know that it is important to stay out of the sun for long periods of time without some type of sun protection. However, many of us have a Vitamin D deficiency, and since it is difficult to get just through the foods you eat, the sun is the best source for us. You can only get Vitamin D through sunlight without sunscreen, so enjoy 10-15 minutes outside everyday, and if you are staying out longer, then use sunscreen. (Just make sure your sunscreen is free from harmful chemicals, like this one.)
Vitamin D is essential to cell and bone growth, as well as reducing inflammation and improving your immune system. A deficiency in this important vitamin has also been linked to linked to cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis, among many other things. There are lots of reasons for spending some time outside!
Because vitamin D is so vital to your immune system, a deficiency can keep your body from fighting off infection-causing pathogens. The pathogens then cause an increase in inflammation in your body, and since you are deficient in vitamin D, there is nothing to help your body turn off the inflammation response, allowing your body to get back to normal.
It is recommended that you (ages 9+) can take up to 4000-5000IU per day, especially if you don’t spend much time in the sun or outdoors. I also take this supplement, since I have a desk job and spend most of my time indoors, but the free way is to go outside!
Do you ever have trouble concentrating? Taking a quick break and going outside could help. Researchers show that when children with ADHD go outside instead of playing inside, they had fewer symptoms and were able to concentrate more fully.
Have a problem you are facing? Need to come up with a creative solution? Or, maybe like me, your job depends on your creativity. Studies show that taking a walk helps boost creativity and creative problem solving. While it is true that taking a walk, even inside, can help creativity, you get the added bonus of the healthy side effects. Plus researchers noted that going outside also helps with inspiration and thinking in new ways.
Fresh air can awaken your brain. Instead of grabbing a cup of coffee, try a 20 minute walk in the park. It will perk you up, plus provide the benefits listed above, including making you happier, less stressed, and more relaxed.
You are grounded when your bare skin, such as your hands or feet, in in direct contact with the surface of the Earth. This is also called earthing. Contact with the earth can provide many different benefits, particularly reducing inflammation. You can’t get grounded through shoes or clothing, though. It must be skin to ground contact. According to the National Institute of Health, grounding can reduce or prevent inflammation from injury, including the symptoms of swelling, pain, and redness.
The idea behind this is that the Earth enables free electrons to enter the body, where they can have an antioxidant effect, repairing injury and reducing inflammation and pain. To get the benefits, walk around barefoot, or sit down outside for 30 minutes with your feet in the grass.
If you live in a climate that is not conducive to going outside much, you can still reap the benefits through this product. I have used this personally and can attest to less back pain and improvement in hormone function. (I thought it was crazy at first, but I was desperate enough to try anything, and I am so glad I did!)
Have you experienced positive effects from going outside? What were they? Have you tried grounding?
As always, please consult a doctor before making any lifestyle or health changes. Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, at no additional cost to you, I receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services I believe will be helpful to you. In addition, 50% of the profit from this site, including affiliate commissions, goes to helping those in need. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”