They say spending time outside is healing for the soul, but does it also have physical health benefits? Study after study is showing that this is true... From improving short-term memory all the way to lowering your overall risk of an early death, being outside has quite a few health benefits.
1. Spending time outside is great de-stressor.
Nature is a common place to go to get away from it all and decompress, but biology is showing that time spent in the outdoors truly does lower stress levels. For example, a study found that both heart rates and cortisol levels (that hormone that is associated with stress) were significantly lower in people that spent time in the forest versus people that spent time in the city.
This also applies to just looking at nature. Another study proved that office workers with a view of nature outside their windows showed lower stress levels, higher productivity rates, and higher job satisfaction. Petition to only build office buildings with nice views from here on out!
2. You'll actually feel less tired after time outside.
While an aggressive hike can leave you feeling pretty dang tired, research shows that a leisurely stroll through nature can give you a little energy boost. One study found that the feeling of awe (like one gets by taking in some natural beauty) is one of the best ways to experience a mental boost.
Another study found that people experienced higher levels of energy after just looking at photos of nature. Even more interestingly, they found that people didn't experience those same energy boosts after looking at photos of city scenes. So, get up and get outside people!
3. The outdoors sharpens your ability to focus.
If you're finding your mind feeling foggy, you may just need a quick break outside. A study showed that people who took a walk through nature performed significantly better on a proofreading project. The groups that walked through the city or just took a relaxing break weren't as focused during the activity. Research also shows that kids with ADHD were able to focus and concentrate better after just 20 minutes out in the park.
4. Taking a quick walk in nature actually improves your short-term memory.
There are plenty of little things you can do to improve your short-term memory, like maintaining a good diet or getting enough sleep - easier said than done, right? But there are studies that show that something as simple as a walk through nature can help you out too. This University of Michigan study had a group walk through nature and a group walk through the city. Results showed that the nature group performed 20% better on a memory test after their outdoor trips. So along with brain teasers and healthy foods, add an outdoor excursion to your daily to-do list.
5. Spending time in the outdoors can reduce inflammation.
This health benefit stems from getting your daily dose of Vitamin D (which also helps your body absorb calcium to prevent osteoporosis). Inflammation is linked to a lot of different illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer and depression. Who knew the sun helps you fight against all that?
A group of researchers sent some elderly patients into the woods for a weeklong trip. When they got back, they showed reduced signs of inflammation and hypertension. Just another reason to add a daily walk into your routine!
6. Blood pressure lowers after time spent in the outdoors.
I kinda gave this one away with all that hypertension speak, but nature can also lower your blood pressure. A study (different from the one above) showed that a stroll through the forest lowered the participants' pulse by almost 4% and blood pressure by just above 2%. Not quite a cure, but being outdoors is a great addition to a healthy lifestyle.
7. The outdoors is associated with a lower overall risk of early death.
Lower blood pressure, lower inflammation, lower stress levels = lower risk of early death. But just to drive home my point, there is a study that found that a wide variety of diseases aren't as common in people who live close to or spend a lot of time in nature. So, yeah, the outdoors rock.
8. Rockin' KNW Gear makes you feel 20% more awesome.
Because we've got fresh designs, and because every purchase helps fund & host wilderness cleanups. Check out our favorites in stock right now, and join us at a cleanup!
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