Healthy Lifestyle

4 Reasons to Unplug and Get Outside

When it comes to feeding your good health, one of the most powerful tools at your disposal is all around you: the great outdoors.

Our bodies weren’t designed to be stuck inside all day tethered to computers, work stations and gadgets. Sure, our modern conveniences are … convenient. But you’re missing a lot if you don’t get outside.

Spring and early summer are wonderful times to take full advantage of the longer periods of daylight, warmer temperatures and radiant sunshine. The arrival of fall has its own draws, including cooler temperatures and colorful foliage. And while the thought of winter might be a turn-off, any time of the year is good to be outside as long as you wear appropriate clothing! 

Why you should head outdoors

Benefits of exploring and enjoying nature include:

Decreasing stress

Spending time outdoors makes us happier, healthier and more at peace. Put down your phone, step away from the computer and enjoy the fresh air, birds chirping and sights and smells of plants in the natural world. Reconnecting with nature’s beauty helps to reduce stress, decrease your heart rate and blood pressure, and refresh your mind.

Healthier weight

Research has shown that children and adults exposed to nature have lower rates of obesity. That makes sense, as being outside allows for more activity and movement during the day. But being out in nature also lowers cortisol and blood sugar levels – factors that can lead to obesity. One series of studies even found that exposure to the outdoors has a positive impact on a person’s vitality.

Happiness and decreased risk of depression

An activity like hiking through a forest elevates your mood. It creates awareness in your eyes, your ears and all of your senses. This exercises your body and mind while feeding your imagination. Many times people can walk farther and faster outside than they normally do on treadmills, thereby compounding the benefits. So enjoy your surroundings and let them motivate you!  

Sunshine and vitamin D

One of the biggest preventative health care issues is making sure you get enough vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is believed to be associated with increased rates of cancer, heart disease, depression, osteoporosis and other diseases. While some foods and supplements can help you get the vitamin D you need, exposure to sunlight – especially in summer’s midday hours – is another effective option. Consider your body’s vitamin D production a perk of being outside, not the sole reason to go. Fifteen minutes of sun exposure is adequate. Any longer and you can risk damaging your skin.

Your Methodist Physicians Clinic provider can offer more guidance on how outdoor activity can help you achieve your health goals.

What are you waiting for?

The possibilities are endless. You might enjoy exploring a park, gardening, eating lunch outside or hiking on the weekend. Maybe you plan to gaze at the stars, admire a beautiful sunset, swim in a lake or just relax under a tree.

Whatever you do, get outside. Your mood and health will improve as a result.