5 health benefits of being outside

April, Archive, Month

Sunshine and some time in nature can lead to health benefits.

Taking a jog along a trail in a park or playing a pick-up game in a field with some friends have obvious exercise and health benefits.

But it has also been determined that simply being outside and spending some time around nature also gives one’s health a boost in a number of ways.

“All too often we forget to shift back and focus on self-care,” said Dr. Rachel Young, an internal medicine specialist with McLaren Oakland. “I find people feel better when they are empowered to care for themselves and to value their individual wellness and self.”

The sun is poking out through the clouds and staying out longer, the color is returning to nature and the fresh air is plentiful. If you need more reasons to head outside…

Improves your mood and focus

Being in and around nature, researchers have concluded, significantly decreases feelings of anxiety, depression and anger. Time spent outdoors also allows the brain time away from having to concentrate on mentally straining tasks, improving overall focus.

Lowers stress and blood pressure

Hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline — those same hormones that signal stress and result in elevated blood pressure — are naturally lowered by the calming influence of nature and its serenity.

Supports healthy aging

Older adults who spend time outside during minimal activity have reported having better nights of sleep, fewer achy joints and muscles, increased mobility and other positive quality of life metrics that could easily be common complaints among those with a more sedentary lifestyle.

Helps healing

For people recovering from an illness or even injury, it has been determined that those who spend time outside and in nature have reported less complications, less need for pain medication and even quicker recoveries.

Boosts immune system

Vitamin D, obtained from the sunshine and absorbed through the skin, has levels of protection against osteoporosis, stroke, cancer, heart attacks and depression. But too much sun can still be dangerous — remember to use sunscreen if you’ll be in the sun for an extended period of time.

Head outside and enjoy the beauty of nature in the sunshine, but make sure to continue taking proper precautions. Wear a mask when around other people, socially distance and avoid large gatherings.