Ahh, the Great Outdoors…spending time outside really can have amazing affects on the health and happiness of humans.
Unfortunately, today our lifestyles our based around indoor activities. We work inside, then we come home and use technology until we sleep. We hardly ever find the time to venture off outside. The truth is, people are spending less time in nature than they necessarily should.
As a result, this can have significant affects on our physical, mental and emotional health.
How Does Isolating Inside For Long Periods of Time Affect Health?
1. Affects Your Mood
Staying inside for long periods of time tends to make people moodier due to the lack of physical exercise, limited social interaction and decreased engagement.
Your mood is also negatively affected because you spend less time out in the sun. As a result, you get less serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is associated with feelings of happiness and contentedness.
Simply put: the longer you stay inside the more moody you’ll become.
2. Leads to Increased Screen-Time
When you spend a lot of time inside, you also typically spend more time on the internet or using electronic devices
That combined with the fact that you can essentially do anything online nowadays, from chatting with friends, to purchasing goods, to studying and working, means that people are venturing out into nature less and less.
However, the problem is that this increased screen-time comes with its own list of mental and physical health effects.
The over-use of “screens” like televisions, computers, tablets, and smartphones, has been linked to increased rates of depression, loneliness, and obesity. Too much screen time takes us away from “real-life” social interactions and leads to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.
3. Disrupts Your Sleep
Not getting enough sleep, or not sleeping well enough, has become an increasingly common problem for everyone from children to adults.
Unfortunately there are many different insidious dangers associated with not getting a good nights sleep. This includes increased risk of things like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
If you are isolated inside for long periods of time, your sleep may be disrupted because your circadian rhythm may be thrown off.
Your circadian rhythm is the body’s natural internal clock. It regulates when we get tired and when we feel alert, and is influenced greatly by the presence, or lack thereof, of the sun. So given this, it makes sense that if we are not exposed to the sun our body’s become less certain of when they should wind down. As a result, making it harder to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
4. Lack of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is crucial to maintaining a healthy body and mind. There are many benefits that you gain from vitamin D, including reduced inflammation and improved calcium absorption, which reduces the likelihood of developing diseases like osteoporosis.
Most people get the majority of their vitamin D around 90 per cent- through sun exposure. So if we spend large amounts of time indoors, you’re limiting your exposure to the sun. As a result, you will eventually become vitamin D deprived.
How does being outside improve your health
1. Your mood improves
As mentioned above, spending too much time indoors tends to make people more moody and irritable. So, it makes sense that getting out into the great outdoors, or even just stepping into your yard, can do wonders to improve your mood.
In fact, according to current research, the effect of nature can be so great that it may even be able to counteract diagnosed mood disorders. So next time your feeling a bit bummed out, take a break and sit out in the sun!
2. You experience lower stress levels
Stress can have a significant effect on our health, both physical and mental. Most people don’t think much about the negative effects stress can have on us. However, ignoring the issue is a dangerous gamble.
Too much stress can contribute to a multitude of health problems including but not limited to: high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, asthma, depression, headaches and hearth conditions. Spending time outdoors is a simple way to help prevent and combat these health issues.
3. Decreased Anxiety
Studies have shown that spending time outside can lead to lower levels of anxiety. Exposure to nature and the sun make us happier and calmer. Spending time outdoors makes us feel better physically and emotionally, which helps reduce anxiety.
4. Improved Cognitive Function
If you want to improve your cognitive abilities, spending time outside is one of the best things you can do. Interacting with nature, whether by enjoying a picnic in the park with friends or by spending 15 minutes breathing in the crisp winter air while you walk your dog, has been proven to help improve memory and attention.
The effect of nature is so great that even just looking at a photograph of nature has shown to improve memory and attention levels by nearly 20 per cent when compared to photos of urban settings.
5. Improved Immune System
Spending time outdoors boosts the immune system. According to research, when we’re outdoors we breathe in chemicals produced by plants called phytoncides. These phytoncides increase our white blood cell levels which can actually help keep us healthier.
Spending time outdoors, immersed in nature and exposed to the sun, can have a significant positive impact on our overall health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally.
Research shows that all it takes to reap the benefits of the great outdoors is 120 minutes a week. And that doesn’t even have to be all at once. Therefore, you can enjoy the benefits of nature even if all you have is 15 minutes during your lunch break or 30 minutes after work.
If you make the effort to soak in nature and you’ll find improvements in your mood, sleep, cognitive function, and overall health. So next time you find yourself bored on a Saturday with nothing to do, step outside and enjoy mother nature, even if it’s only for a little while.
Read Also: Benefits Of Drinking A Gallon Of Water A Day