Health & Wellness Articles

Why Getting Outside is So Good for You

Are You Nature-Deprived?

John Keats once wrote, "The poetry of the earth is never dead."

Poet or not, almost all of us have been awestruck by nature at one time or another. Whether it's running at sunset on a sandy white beach, walking alongside a cool trickling stream, watching sunset over a mountain ridge, or even hearing the wind blow through the trees in the morning, being outdoors and aware of the world's beauty can make you feel energized and alive. Recently, much research has focused on the so-called "nature connection," and how it affects our health, outlook and overall life.

Nature's Healing Powers
It seems that just being out in nature does your body, mind and soul some good. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the closer you live to nature, the healthier you're likely to be. The study took an objective look at 345,143 Dutch people's medical records, assessing health status for 24 conditions, including cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological diseases. The records were then correlated with how much green space was located within 1 kilometer and 3 kilometers of a person's postal code. And what did researchers find? People who lived within 1 kilometer of a park or a wooded area experienced less anxiety and depression than those who lived farther away from green space.

Additionally, people living in urban environments had a higher prevalence of 15 of the 24 conditions, with the relationship strongest for anxiety disorder and depression. It's interesting to note that the green space's health benefits were only found when they were within a kilometer (not 3 kilometers away), except for anxiety disorders, gastrointestinal digestive disorders and other medically unexplained physical symptoms, according to the research.

Live in a city with no green space nearby? No worries! Other studies by researchers in England and Sweden have found that joggers who exercise in a natural green setting with trees, foliage and landscape views, feel more restored, and less anxious, angry and depressed than those runners who burn the same amount of calories in gyms or other urban settings. So even if you have to drive a few miles to find a little green, it's worth it!

Why Does Nature Do the Body So Good?
So what is it about nature that makes us so much healthier? And what is about outdoor exercise that is better than working out in a gym? While there are many theories as to why being in nature makes us healthier, one leading hypothesis is that being outside increases our Vitamin D intake.
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites, and A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • I live in a place where nature is all around me and I love it. It is good to be connected to Mother Earth. - 11/5/2015 7:24:39 PM
  • I'm experiencing this during this fall! My outside walk around the beautiful grounds of the Dearborn Inn each lunchtime is the highlight of my day! - 11/2/2015 12:39:59 PM
  • I go outside every morning with my dog and cat, summer or winter, and wake up while they explore for the day. It's my favorite thing. - 10/25/2015 9:15:29 AM
  • SOMAR12570

    great information. - 10/21/2015 8:31:36 AM
  • Our little town makes it a priority to preserve green space for the community. I am going to pass this article along to the city planner for fuel for that argument! - 9/9/2015 10:00:31 AM
  • Having lived my entire life in the country I've always enjoyed being outside. I know I would be miserable if all I could see was buildings and pavement. This is a great article and a good reminder to take advantage of blessings around us. - 6/30/2015 2:03:47 PM
  • SOMAR12570
  • I live with my back yard that turns into a wooded area. Except for my eating issues with white refined sugar sweets, my life is pretty stress free. I fall asleep each night being sung a lullaby through the frogs and wake up each morning the the beautiful praises of the song birds!!!!! And the best part, is when during the night, you hear the howling of the wolves!!!!!

    Yep, life next to the woods is pretty sweet!!!!! I wouldn't trade it for anything place else. - 5/29/2015 10:54:35 AM
  • Great article. Love all the ideas and suggestions listed. - 4/30/2015 1:20:09 PM
  • I live in a beautiful community built around a lake. It is 3 miles from our house, around the lake and back home. My goal is to be able to do that again. Haven't done it in many years!

    Meanwhile, I think I will go for a 5 - 10 minute walk outdoors!

    Article has inspired me! - 4/17/2015 2:22:50 PM
  • This is an awesome article with lots of information. I love being outside. I walk my dogs twice sometimes three times a day, rain or shine! :D It just does a body good to be outside in the sunshine instead of inside!
    - 4/11/2015 5:36:24 AM
  • SOMAR12570

    Great article with wonderful ideas. - 4/4/2015 3:48:23 PM
    Hi, I love your article! I referenced it in my blog post about managing time. Making time to be a fit wife, mom, and homemaker. I wanted to share it with you and thank you for posting such a great article! http://mireillesj
    omemaker-time-management/ - 3/30/2015 1:22:59 PM
  • Hiking and gardening are my favorites! :) - 3/17/2015 5:02:02 PM
  • I knew I was lucky to live in a city with a lot of green space -- now I know why! - 2/27/2015 10:57:36 AM

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