Health & Wellness Articles

Why Getting Outside is So Good for You

Are You Nature-Deprived?

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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 FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. 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

  • 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
    THIS ARTICLE IS VERY INFORMATIVE. - 6/2/2015 9:18:31 AM
  • 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
  • MIMIHAYWARD
    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
    ourneytohealt
    h.com/2015/03
    /30/fit-girl-
    wife-mother-h
    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
  • RADARSCOOT
    It's amazing what a difference getting outside can make - even if it is just for a few minutes. I am lucky to both live and work near green space, but I am not so good at taking the time to go there!

    I also found that my annual tent-camping trips were a wonderful way to rejuvenate - even if I don't do anything ambitious on the trip. For the last few years I haven't been able to get away - and now I have stress and depression problems...a coincidence?? - 1/5/2015 7:57:15 AM
  • I 100% believe this, and especially think that it is important for kids to be getting outside as much as possible. I have stated an initiative to get kids outdoors after school learning about natural science through art. if you you like to help this program take off, learn more about it at it's kickstarter page here: https://www.kicks
    tarter.com/pr
    ojects/857662
    269/childrens
    -art-and-science-program

    Thanks!
    -Taylor - 1/2/2015 5:07:15 PM
  • I need to take this article to heart and keep getting outside despite the cold this winter. I may need to get some different workout clothes. - 11/26/2014 10:58:58 AM
  • I love being outside! If I'm feeling stressed or anxious a walk is better than any medication! - 11/19/2014 11:29:01 AM
  • I could benefit from a boost to my well-being today! I plan to take my dog and go out for a few minutes. I'm dealing with a bit of a cold so I will not overdo--good article! My favorite outside activity is weeding!! - 11/16/2014 12:59:16 PM

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