Health & Wellness Articles

Why Getting Outside is So Good for You

Are You Nature-Deprived?

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We just keep learning more and more about how important vitamin D is for health, including preventing cancer, hormonal problems, obesity, and inflammation, and having a strong immune system. Because sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, it only seems logical that spending more time in outside would increase your vitamin D intake.

Being in a natural setting can also help increase your quality of sleep, as studies show that natural sunlight helps set the body's internal clock that tells us when to eat and sleep, and normalizes hormonal functions that occur at specific times of the day. And we all know how important sleep is not just for our health, but even for our weight loss!

Enjoying the outdoors also gives us a break from technology and the on-the-run lifestyle to which we're all so accustomed. When we're outside, we have a clearer, more focused mindset to hang out with friends, or spend some quiet time alone or even play with a pet.  (Remember: Pets can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). When we're outside, we can also learn and enjoy a new skill or physical activity. And perhaps most important of all, we get a chance to turn off—or better, leave behind—our cell phones to clear our heads and break from the stress we all have each and every day.

How Much Green Exercise Is Enough?
So how much green time do you need? Not much, recent research says. According to the American Chemical Society's journal Environmental Science & Technology, as little as five minutes exercising in a park, working in a backyard garden, hiking on a nature trail, or even sitting in a plant-filled setting will benefit your mental health. From researchers' analysis of 1,252 people of different ages, genders and mental health status performing walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming, the greatest health changes occurred in the young and the mentally ill, although people of all ages and social groups benefited. All natural environments benefited study participants, including parks in urban settings. However, green areas with water were especially beneficial, as were environments that were both green and blue (think of a green tree on a bright blue sky).

Fun Ways to Get Outside
Ready to get out there? Here are seven easy ways to enjoy the benefits of nature!
  1. Make being outside a ritual. Go for a morning or evening walk every day. And if you have one, bring your pooch—outdoor exercise is good for Fido, too.
  2. Try gardening. From a planting vegetable garden to planting a few flowers, both activities get you outside regularly and communing with nature.
  3. Take vacations in beautiful places. For your next scheduled break, visit a state or national park or go to a beautiful beach—whatever landscape speaks to you!
  4. Find a trail. Whether hiking or biking is your speed, there are trails around the country for you to explore. Find one near you at trails.com.
  5. Sit outside. We're always so on-the-go. The next time you need a break, try sitting outside quietly and just appreciate the natural beauty around you! Notice the scents, sights and sounds as you sit quietly and focus on the moment.
  6. Go to a local park. Ask others in your neighborhood which park is their favorite to visit. Then the next time the weather is good, trade your usual gym workout for an outdoor one!
  7. Commit to the outdoors, rain or shine. When you're layered properly, you can enjoy the outdoors in any season, cold, wet or hot. Don't forget about the fun and healthy outdoor activities available during the rainy or cold months—these are the times that we have even less outdoor interaction, but may be when we need it the most!
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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

  • JOANN25
    I like to get outside when the weather is nice. if it is raining, I pretty much stay inside. Mother Nature has good things to offer and I love walking in the outdoors and viewing God's glory in the things he has made. I'll try to do better and get out more. - 3/8/2016 4:50:22 PM
  • I walk to work all the time but I just recently discovered the trail near my home will be heading there to walk till the weather is good enough to ride it. - 2/6/2016 10:01:59 AM
  • I spend time outside everyday to be with my animals and just soak in nature. :) - 1/28/2016 7:56:22 AM
  • 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
    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

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