If you’re anything like me than you have a love/hate relationship with any place that doesn’t have a controlled climate. Sure, it’s wonderful to be outdoors but it’s also quite nice being able to control the heat/air conditioning through a few clicks of a button. Thermostats are God’s work, I tell you.
That being said, there are actually a ton of health benefits—both physical and mental—that I’ve (begrudgingly) had to accept. Here are just a few of my favorite!
The Sun Isn’t (Always) the Villain
Wait, so the sun is a good thing? Yep. Turns out the great glowing ball of fire in the sky isn’t there just to make you sweaty and sunburned. Being outdoors and getting ten to fifteen minutes of direct, unprotected sunlight on the skin allows our body to soak up Vitamin D. A goodly dose of the sun keeps your skin healthy and bones strong. According to good ole’ WebMD “…people with higher levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of disease”. Don’t try to bake yourself like your senile aunt’s rock-hard cookies though. After ten to fifteen minutes it’s best to put on a sunscreen.
Helps with SADness
During the Fall and Winter month’s there’s a phenomenon known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. This basically means that people become susceptible to a specific type of depression due to a combination of lack of sunlight and, thusly, lack of vitamin D. This isn’t limited to just the Fall and Winter months either. Those of us who refuse to leave our air conditioned homes for anything less than beer and mating rituals during the summer are at risk of developing a similar sort of depressive condition. So, snap on the shades, wear something you don’t mind sweating in, and go outside before you end up binge watching bad TV.
The Great Outdoors: A Natural Valium
Fresh air, unrestricted movement (i.e. you don’t have to dodge those clothes you’ve been meaning to wash for a week and a half), and a shifting change in scenery are all scientifically proven aspects of the outdoors that help to reduce anxiety. Make an effort to get away from the city if you’re urban-locked, go somewhere green, and walk until you feel Zen. According to a study done by Stanford University (that place I tell everyone I applied to but never really did) spending 90 minutes outdoors, in nature, can benefit you mentally.
Get Your Beach Body On the Beach
I’ve come to learn that I’m a “comfortable regretter” when it comes to shedding winter pounds for summer. For me this means that I procrastinate going to the gym as long as possible and end up regretting it when everyone is strutting around looking lean and tight. That being said I love the motivation I feel being outside and working out. Going outside to get a workout has the added bonus of all the aforementioned while you’re shedding a few pounds or reawakening those hibernating muscles. Allot yourself time this summer to run outside instead of on a treadmill and see how much better you feel by the end of it.
Go Outside to Get Better Sleepy Time
Artificial lighting is apparently the worst thing to happen to humanity since the invention of nicotine. Not only does artificial lighting screw with your eyes but apparently it’s messing with our sleep as well. Awesome sauce; thanks a lot Edison. According to current scientific research unnatural lighting messes with our natural circadian rhythms and could possibly be promoting near-sightedness. The solution? Natural lighting. Getting outside helps our body regulate it’s sleep cycles better.
Whether it’s for fifteen minutes to soak up the D or for the full ninety to get your mellow flowing, get outside. Fear not the sweat, bugs, and allergies; today’s technology has you covered on all fronts. What’s truly important is to protect our bodies and minds from those things we can’t get inside, in front of a screen. Do that by spending less time on the sofa and more time exploring the world outside your front door.