Exercise offers immense physical and mental benefits, but did you know that exercising outside can further amplify these advantages compared to indoor workouts?
Experts unanimously agree that outdoor activities have an exponential positive impact on mental health, making physical exercise even more rewarding. Moreover, engaging in outdoor or green exercise is often free, courtesy of Mother Nature, allowing you to save a considerable amount of money compared to gym memberships. Saving money is an achievement that not only enhances your mood but also helps alleviate stress.
With that in mind, let’s explore 8 noteworthy health benefits of participating in outdoor activities.
1.Enhances Mental Well-being
Exercising outdoors significantly improves your mental well-being. One contributing factor is the heightened mindfulness and awareness that naturally arise during outdoor exercise, particularly in response to the changing terrain and weather conditions.
Unlike the flat floors and evenly positioned benches of a gym, outdoor environments encompass winding paths, hills, woods, and valleys. The necessity to remain focused and alert at all times offers substantial mental health benefits.
2.Optimizes Vitamin D Intake
Sunlight plays a vital role in providing your body with essential nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D, crucial for healthy bones and blood cells. Exercising under the sun enables seamless absorption of these minerals. Just 5-15 minutes of sun exposure every two days is sufficient to meet your body’s vitamin D requirements.
Engaging in various outdoor activities with friends significantly boosts self-esteem. This effect is particularly pronounced when spending time near water bodies, green spaces, or immersed in the sounds of nature, such as waterfalls.
Activities like walking along nature trails, fishing, gardening, and other moderate-intensity physical activities are also beneficial for building self-esteem. Engaging in recreational activities like paintball or laser tag provides a renewed sense of accomplishment, fostering a major boost in confidence.
Spending time in nature, such as forests or engaging in low-intensity outdoor activities like birdwatching, has a profound stress-reducing effect, significantly lowering cortisol levels—the hormone that indicates stress levels in humans. Camping in the woods, for instance, is a far superior activity compared to spending time in urban environments, particularly for individuals with anxiety.
Scientific studies have also shown that individuals who spend more time in natural surroundings have improved heart rates compared to those who spend extended periods sitting in front of screens or navigating city traffic.
5.Improves Sleep Quality
The accuracy of your internal clock plays a crucial role in regulating your sleep cycle. If your internal clock is disrupted, achieving a restful night’s sleep becomes challenging. Exposure to sunlight, particularly in the morning hours, is essential for maintaining a well-functioning internal clock. The cells in your eyes require sufficient sunlight, especially before mid-day, to keep your internal clock in sync. This becomes increasingly important as you age.
As mentioned earlier, morning sunlight boosts your Vitamin D levels, which in turn strengthens your immune system. Additionally, being surrounded by outdoor plants allows you to benefit from phytoncides and other organic compounds produced by plants. These compounds have immune-boosting properties for humans.
7.Facilitates Fat Burning
Engaging in outdoor activities, particularly water-based activities, helps burn calories and unwanted fat. Furthermore, spending time outdoors during the day promotes better sleep, and improved sleep facilitates faster weight loss. The role of outdoor time in physical fitness should not be underestimated.
Spending time outdoors has a calming effect on an anxious mind, as mentioned earlier. Even if you’re not fond of going out, you may have experienced the calming nature of the outdoors through house plants or pictures of nature. Many offices hang nature-themed wall art to create a calming environment for stressed and anxious employees. Imagine the significance of being in the presence of a real waterfall or mountain, similar to what you see in office wall art.
If you are a working individual, chances are you spend long hours indoors, seated in front of a computer and artificial lights. Your busy schedule leaves little time to keep up with news and social trends, resulting in evenings spent indulging in social media and TV. It’s in your best interest to break free from these harmful habits. Step away from the couch and embrace the outdoors for a healthier lifestyle.