How Spending Time Outdoors Is a Goldmine of Health

As our lives get busier, spending quality time outdoors seems to have taken the back seat to a lot of our other endeavors. Statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have shown that, on average, adults spend 87% of their time inside of buildings, and 6 % of their time inside of vehicles while commuting.  That equals to 93% of our time spent enclosed.

Even for children, with the advent of tablets and constant televised stimulation, the amount of time they spend playing outside pales in comparison to previous generations. However, despite how busy we may be, or what else has captured our attention, it is essential that we make the time to expose ourselves to the Great Outdoors as much as possible.  This is a must in order to achieve our optimal health potential.

Being outdoors doesn’t just provide a dose of fresh air and sunlight, both of which are absolutely beneficial.  Spending time outside has actually been scientifically proven to enhance our mental and physical wellbeing in spades.  While, realistically, depending on where one lives, spending a lot of time outdoors may not always be possible, trying to at least take in some time outside, even in colder climates, is better than nothing.  Too much time indoors exposes us to chemicals, toxins, and pollutants that tend to concentrate within four walls. Without natural air flow, these contaminants linger for us to breathe in.

Being outdoors not only allows us to enjoy better air quality, but it also exposes us to sunlight which is a natural source of Vitamin D.  This vitamin is necessary for our bodies to be able to properly fight off infections, improve bone density, and prevent chronic diseases.  However, it has been estimated that over 85% of adults in the United States are deficient in this vitamin.  Research has also shown that people who exercise regularly while out of doors, not only have higher levels of Vitamin D in their bodies, but also have lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) than people who exercise indoors only.

Several studies have also shown that “outside time” greatly benefits our mental health.  Researchers have observed that people who spend time outdoors on a regular basis have lower stress levels, higher levels of creativity and clear thinking, and lower heart rates.  Environmental psychologists have also reported that people of all ages, when exposed to nature, are better able to cope with anxiety, and are more emotionally and mentally resilient.

Whether you chose to go for a short run or walk, ride your bike around the block, or simply sit outside to read a book, this quality time spent outdoors will help improve your mood and health.  With summer weather making its debut, there is certainly no excuse to stay indoors!

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