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Surprising Benefits of Getting Outdoors on Your Physical and Mental Health and Well-Being




Currently I’m spending time with family and enjoy being surrounded by gorgeous deciduous forest. When my kids were little they loved running among the trees during the day and chasing fireflies at night. Now-a-days we enjoy walks and jogs along the tree-lined roadways. It’s beautiful, especially as spring swings into full bloom with lovely flowers and the greening of trees.


And we all know that exercise is good for us, self-care is important, and that finding ways to reduce stress is beneficial to health, supports sleep, and improves mood.


But did you know that getting outside can do double duty by encouraging exercise, being part of self-care, and helping us to manage stress.


What’s so great about getting outside rather than going to the gym or taking a bubble bath?


Getting outside makes it more likely you’ll get exercise. You don’t need a gym membership or special equipment you can walk to a local park, around the block, or on the beach. The resistance of the wind, hills, and unlevel ground can even amp up things up. Exercise can also be practical – gardening, yard work, sweeping, or mowing the yard will also get you moving.


Getting outside can help you sleep better and make Vitamin D. Early morning sunlight seems to help people sleep better at night by supporting the body’s internal clock, so walking the dog or getting out for a walk before work can set the stage for a good night’s sleep.


Sunlight is also essential to produce vitamin D – an important part of supporting bone, blood, and immune health. It doesn’t take much, maybe 5 to 15 minutes in summer and a bit more in winter.

The exercise and sunlight can help lessen feelings of anxiety. I know when I take a pre-dinner stroll to a local park, I can literally feel the stress of the day lessen and melt away. You can even make it social by walking with a spouse or meeting up with a friend.


Getting outside into a “green” outdoor space has also been shown to improve focus. And it’s apparently not just the exercise but the nature that help support concentration.


Getting outside has also been linked to improved immune health and increased creativity. As mentioned above vitamin D supports the immune system and being around plants is likened to “natures aromatherapy diffuser”. Plants release aromatic and organic compounds such as phytoncides that seem to boost immune function.


Getting outside can help quiet the mind and allow us to slow down and get a “breath of fresh air” to support creative thinking, problem solving, and unstick writer’s block.


The benefits of exercise and better sleep as a result of getting outside  can help support a healthy weight. In particular early morning sunlight seems to help the body burn fat. It may be because this morning light helps regulate our body’s natural rhythms.


The Japanese have a special term for getting outdoors in a forest environment – “Shinrin Yoku” or forest bathing. No it doesn’t involve taking a plunge in a creek or river but simply mindfully spending time in a forest to support physical and mental well being.


Studies indicate that it can energize, support immune health, and help support sound sleep. But you probably don’t need a scientific study to agree that enjoying the peace and beauty of a forest feels great.


So whether it’s five minutes or a five mile hike getting outside is a fantastic way to support your health and well-being in more ways than one. You can get exercise, vitamin D, self-care, better sleep, improved focus, a creative spark, and more by just taking time to enjoy nature and the great outdoors.


If you’re not getting outside on a regular basis how can you incorporate it into your day? A morning walk? Lunch outside with co-workers. An evening stroll with your spouse? A weekend hike with friends?


How do you enjoy getting outside?


Aromatic blessings,

Tricia


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