Many of us spend our days working indoors — often under fluorescent lights in front of a computer — and then go home to spend the rest of the day inside. In fact, both adults and kids spend much less time outdoors than ever before.

Yet, research shows it’s important to spend time outside because it can benefit our overall health and well-being. If you need a little motivation to step out into the fresh air, here are eight reasons why you and your family should spend more time outside.

1. It Enhances Physical Fitness

Because spending time outdoors usually involves physical movement, it often results in increased fitness, stamina, and endurance. Moreover, hiking up a mountain or jogging in a forest provides a much better view than exercising inside a gym — with an extra dose of fun.

2. It Decreases Inflammation and
Strengthens the Immune System

The physical health benefits of spending time outdoors don’t stop at improved fitness. Your time outside also can help reduce inflammation and strengthen your immune system. A high degree of inflammation in your body increases your risk for a range of illnesses. Spending time outdoors is one way to keep that risk in check.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, studies show that immersing yourself in nature can boost immune function. Some researchers even found a link between time spent outdoors and a lowered risk of chronic illness and disease, such as cancer.

3. It Sparks Creation of Vitamin D

The warm sunlight hitting your skin as you step outside provides a catalyst for the creation and activation of vitamin D in your body. While almost everyone knows about the dangers of too much sun exposure, few people realize sun deprivation also can harm their body.

Many of us don’t get enough vitamin D — likely because of how much time we spend indoors. In 2008, researchers reported that vitamin D deficiency reached a pandemic level. Yet, vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and tissue as well for fighting off and preventing health conditions, such as osteoporosis, cancer, depression, and heart attacks.

4. It Improves Mental Health

Spending time outdoors offers many psychological benefits — especially when that time involves exercising. Research shows that time spent in nature can boost emotional well-being while enhancing the benefits of exercise.

Physical activity outdoors, even for short periods of time, can measurably improve both mood and self-esteem. Other research links it to reduced obsessive and negative thoughts — a known risk factor for depression and other mental illnesses.

5. It Sharpens Thinking
and Boosts Creativity

Many people struggle with creative burnout and difficulty focusing on a daily basis. However, getting some fresh air might just provide a simple solution to your shrinking attention span or writer’s block.

People can significantly improve their creative problem-solving skills and cognition by participating in outdoor activities, according to one study. Inspiration stems from variety and spontaneity, and the outdoor world provides a limitless source of both.

6. It Reduces Mental Fatigue

If your brain feels foggy due to stress, lack of sleep, poor mental health, or other unpleasant circumstances, you may have mental fatigue.

The good news is you can recharge your mind by spending more time in natural environments. One study even found that simply looking at pictures of natural landscapes can renew an individual’s alertness and focus. Why? This activity grabs their attention without overwhelming or overstimulating the senses. A similar effect occurs when you’re outdoors.

7. It Lowers Blood Pressure

Many studies reveal this positive effect. One study of 280 people in Japan, for example, found that walking in a forest not only decreased participants’ stress hormone concentrations by more than 15 percent, but also reduced their blood pressure by more than 2 percent.

8. It Increases Longevity

A positive correlation exists between green space and overall health, according to a Dutch study of more than 250,000 people. Another study conducted by the same researchers found a lower incidence of a variety of illnesses among people living close to wide-open, nature-filled spaces.

The de-stressing and mood-lifting effects of nature may provide the rationale for these findings — along with the incentive those open spaces provide for more physical activity outdoors. As previously mentioned, spending more time outdoors can help strengthen your immune system, reduce inflammation, and boost your vitamin D production.

With all this in mind, try to fit outdoor activities into your daily schedule at the nearest nature-filled space you can find. It’s a lifestyle change you won’t regret because quality time spent outdoors is a powerful remedy for whatever physical, mental, or spiritual troubles you may face.

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