More than ever, it’s getting harder and harder to find time to spend outdoors. With the Covid-19 pandemic still with us and harsh winter weather conditions still on the forecast, it can be easy to push our outdoor plans to another day. However, not only is it good to make the time to be outside each day, there are a plethora of benefits we can reap from doing so. In this article, we are going to go over three of the top benefits of getting out into the great outdoors.
1. Improved concentration
A study in 2008 showed that even in kids diagnosed with ADHD, just 20 minutes of time in the outdoors had a statistically significant attentional effect. Nature has been called “restorative” and this absolutely applies to its effect on our concentration. By making time spent outside a priority in our lives, we can begin to experience the effect that outdoor space can have on our concentration and focus.
2. Stress relief
Are you feeling stressed out? Research suggests that spending some time outdoors could be exactly what you need. A study in Japan found that individuals who spent two nights in nature had lower levels of cortisol — a hormone used to indicate stress levels —compared to individuals who had spent the same amount of time in a city. Researchers have even found not only is there a decrease in levels of cortisol but also a decrease in heart rate when spending time in the outdoors. Additional studies have found even a view of nature can be beneficial. When office workers were given a window with a view, lower levels of stress and higher levels of job satisfaction were reported.
Even feelings of “mental fatigue” can be remedied by time spent outdoors. One study found that even just the act of looking at pictures of nature, people’s mental energy capacity increased. Other studies show significant mood enhancing benefits of walks in nature compared to walks in urban areas. It’s clear that spending time in the outdoors is not only great for your physical health, but also your mental health as well.
3. Improved mental health
"Imagine a therapy that had no known side effects, was readily available, and could improve your cognitive functioning at zero cost." This eye-catching opener to a 2008 study describing the effects of "nature therapy" or "time outside" really puts into perspective just how incredible our time outdoors can be.
Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues have all been shown to be eased by spending some time in the outdoors. This is particularly true when that outdoor time is combined with exercise.
One study found that taking a walk in outdoor space was linked with decreased levels of anxiety and bad moods. Additionally, it was concluded that spending time outdoors was "useful clinically as a supplement to existing treatments" for those with major depressive disorder.
Spending time in the great outdoors has been proven time and time again to have some seriously cool cognitive benefits. When paired with exercise, taking the time to be outside can have a significant impact not only on our mood but also our concentration and stress level throughout the day.
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