The Amazing Health Benefits of Spending Time Walking Outdoors

This is an abbreviated version of an article from MyOpenCountry posted with their permission. You can read the full post here.

Introduction

Did you know that walking in nature can improve your health dramatically? The amazing thing about spending time in nature is that you don’t have to run a 5K through the woods to obtain the benefits of the great outdoors. A simple stroll through a park, taking breaks on a rooftop garden or a nice hike can provide you with health benefits nearly equal to that of exercise alone.

Why should you walk in a natural setting? Walking in nature doesn’t just give great physical benefits, but also gives additional mental health and productivity benefits. These benefits are in addition to the great benefits walking gives by itself. Keep reading to learn about how walking in nature can change your life!

HealthBenefitsOutside_infographic

Source: The 19 Health Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors

The Physical Health Benefits

The physical health benefits of spending time in nature could save your life, or least extend it for several more years. The vitamin D you receive from being outdoors and spending time in natural light can help prevent serious diseases. A John Hopkins University study reveals that to maximize the benefits of vitamin D, one should exercise outdoors. Vitamin D and outdoor exercise both also help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

2 Women Walking in Natural Park

Many studies show that being in nature can reduce many symptoms and origins of inflammation. Just by being in nature, you could lower your risk of depression,  autoimmune disease and even certain cancers that are directly related to inflammation. If you walk for at least a mile each day, many medical professionals and medical foundations believe it can reduce your chance of dying from cancer by up to 40 percent. And, as a bonus, time outdoors can provide you with an immune system boost. Staying outdoors in a natural setting can help you maintain that immune boost longer!

Outdoor time can also improve our sleeping and vision as well. Spending time outdoors gets you away from your electronic devices and the screens that contribute to vision deterioration, such as Computer Vision Syndrome. And, a recent University of Colorado, Boulder study revealed that camping for only a few nights could restore one’s internal clock so that you can have a better night’s sleep. If you can’t go camping, you can at least get away from the screen for the duration of your walk!

The Mental Health Benefits

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and stress can interfere with every aspect of your life – from relationships to work. The good news is that a number of Dutch studies show that participating in outdoor activities, even as simple as gardening, can help to restore your cortisone levels and reduce stress. Improvements in mental health can also lead to physical improvements, including reduced risk of death.

Walking on Nature Trail at Sunrise

Other studies show that surrounding yourself with nature can prevent or fight depression and anxiety. Regular exposure to natural light also helps improve your mood. Engaging in outdoor activity, regardless of whether it’s mild or adrenaline-filled exercise releases endorphins that can reduce mental fatigue, depression, and anxiety.

The Productivity Benefits

Productivity is essential to success in today’s busy world. How would you like to improve your concentration? A study revealed that after kids with ADHD walked through a park, their concentration levels improved more than it did when they walked through an urban area. Outdoor walking leads to increased oxygen flow through your body and brain that may increase your alertness and therefore productivity.

Couple walking in park with autumn leaves

Outdoor walking also improves short-term memory. A University of Michigan study found that your memory can improve as much as 20 percent from being in nature. You’ll also experience creativity benefits as well! Some of the most creative professionals in history, from Nietzsche to Frank Lloyd Wright, used nature as their source for creative inspiration. And, you might enhance your academic performance, according to a Finnish study. This study reveals that moderate exercise outdoors in young people can improve reading comprehension, reading fluency and mathematical skills.

Conclusion

You can still find ways to get nature in your life, even if you don’t live next to a park, tree-lined trail or forest area. Try going for a walk in a nearby park during lunch, or join a club that goes for hikes or other outdoor activities. Hiking is a great way to get in touch with nature and get your steps in at the same time! Have a weekend off? Take your family to a local, national or state park and experience some beautiful natural scenery. Take your dog for an extended walk.

Most people walk to improve their health, and every little step towards spending more time outdoors can help to improve your mental, physical and productivity health.

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