Health & Wellness

7 Reasons to Get Outside

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Remember those warm days of summer, when you could play outside until the street lights came on?

There were bikes to ride, treasures to hunt, fireflies to catch and lemonade to sell. Those al fresco times don’t have to fade with age (okay, maybe an adult lemonade stand would bring up business licensing issues). The great outdoors is right outside your door. All you have to do is open the door and open your mind. Here are six reasons to get outside:  

We could all use a dose of the sunshine vitamin. The sun helps the body make vitamin D, aka the sunshine vitamin. Research shows [1] that nearly 50 percent of the population across the world is deficient in vitamin D, which may help protect against cancer and chronic diseases, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and more. Bonus: it’s free! So while it is important to take proper steps to avoid over-exposure, get out there and soak in some sun—literally.

It’s a nice change of scenery. Fresh air, sunshine, green grass—it’s beautiful outside. Wander around your neighborhood and you may notice things and encounter people you’ve never seen before. Who knows, you may find inspiration in nature. 

It may be good for your heart. Take a walk, hop on a bike, pick up the tennis racquet, dive in the lake or pool—the choices are endless. Not only is it fun, exercising makes you stronger, clears your mind and just may make you feel better. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week for overall cardiovascular health. Check with your doctor, get outside and get started!

It may lower stress and boost your mental health. Simply living in a neighborhood with more green space has the potential to lower symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression, according to a study conducted by researchers at Medical College of Wisconsin and University of Wisconsin, Madison [2]. If you’re around grass and trees, your mood may show it!

You may feel like a kid again. Sure, you’re older than 5, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the same things you did when you were younger. Remember how fun it used to be to play hide and seek, slurp popsicles on the porch, play catch, shoot hoops, draw with chalk, splash in puddles, embark on scavenger hunts and look at the world with a sense of wonder? You’re never too old for any of the above. You just have to get into the right mindset.

It’s a good reason to unplug. Put down your smart phone, power down your lap top, turn off the TV and head out for the day. There is, quite literally, a whole world out there, waiting to be discovered. Open your mind to chance interactions with friends and strangers, and you may find that the true interactions are more interesting than fiction.

It’s a reminder to appreciate the little things. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stress of day-to-day life. Stepping outside may be like hitting the “reset” button. It takes you away from all those niggling anxieties and puts you smack in the middle of the world at large. Take a deep breath and remind yourself to appreciate all of the wonders at hand—the beautiful sunsets, long shadows, chirping birds, scampering squirrels. You hear a lot about mindfulness these days, and the importance of being in the moment. Outside, that may be easier to do. Wherever you live, there’s beauty to behold.

[1] Vitamin D: the “sunshine” vitamin, Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

[2] Exposure to Neighborhood Green Space and Mental Health: Evidence from Survey of the Health of Wisconsin, mdpi.com

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