Spending time outside can be valuable, especially as we age. Not only can the sunshine and the wonderful sounds of nature boost our mood, it also benefits both mind and body. Here’s how:
- Improves brain function – Various studies have shown a wide variety of brain health benefits of the great outdoors including improved concentration skills and creativity. One study shows a decrease in aggressive behavior among Alzheimer’s patients who spend time in outdoor spaces.1
- Source of vitamin D – Did you know that vitamin D deficiency is a common source of muscle pain and weakness and contributes to health problems such as osteoporosis and diabetes? Most of the vitamin D needed by humans does not come from diet. Exposure to sunlight causes people to synthesize 80 to 90% of the vitamin D the body needs. In the summer, the body stores vitamin D in adipose tissue for use through the winter.
- Reduces stress – Research shows people who spend more time outdoors report lower stress levels and have a reduced risk of depression. One study finds exercising outside for as little as 5 minutes per day boosts mood and self-esteem.2
- Easier to exercise – Speaking of exercise, research shows that older adults who exercised outdoors exercised longer and more frequently than their indoor counterparts.3 The warm sunshine, cool breeze, and sounds of nature make it easier to get moving.
So take a walk on your favorite trail or go for a dip in the pool. You’re mind and your body will thank you.
- Mooney P, Nicell P. The importance of exterior environment for Alzheimer residents: effective care and risk management. Healthcare Management Forum, 5(2): 23-29.
- Barton J, Pretty J. What is the best dose of nature and green exercise for improving mental health? A multi-study analysis. Environmental Science & Technology, 2010; 44(10): 3947-3955.
- Kerr J, Sallis J, Saelens B, et al. Outdoor physical activity and self rated health in older adults living in two regions of the U.S. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2012: 9: 89.