Exercising outdoors brings many physical and emotional benefits. It is advisable to set aside some time each week to go out and share activities in nature.
And it’s not necessary to spend many hours outdoors for those benefits to take effect. Spending at least 120 minutes in nature per week can significantly improve health and well-being. Even if there’s no greenery around you, spending time in the sunlight and fresh air can help you feel better.
Therefore, we share with you 8 benefits you will have in your life by being outdoors.
Physical and emotional well-being
The latest research shows that practicing outdoor activities brings a higher level of well-being, self-esteem and motivation than training or doing the same indoors. Therefore, let’s not limit ourselves to indoor activities and try to find 30 minutes a day outdoors, enjoying the sun, wind and contact with nature. This practice increases vitality and energy levels, decreases anxiety and makes us happier.
The benefits of sunlight
Despite living in a sunny country, a large part of the population is vitamin D deficient. We know that this substance is essential to regulate many organic functions, the immune system and bone health. Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin after sun exposure and a small part is absorbed through the diet. Being active outdoors helps to maintain optimal levels with great benefits on bone health, muscle and metabolic function, as well as in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Increasingly, vitamin D deficiency is being linked to mood disorders.
A minimum exposure of about 10 minutes a day to the sun is recommended to meet the minimum vitamin D requirements. In addition, daytime exposure to sunlight can help us sleep better at night, improve immune function and increase the production of «feel-good hormones». Sunlight regulates our circadian or sleep-wake cycles.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that indoor air pollution can be more than twice as high as outdoor environments. Exercising, walking or meditating outdoors with your family in unpolluted environments is beneficial for breathing clean air and increasing the overall well-being of your body.
Psychological benefits and stress management
Outdoor activities help us to better manage stress and alleviate anxiety caused by our frenetic pace of life. The feeling of space and freedom in an environment free of noise and crowds is the key to achieve this. It has been shown that people have lower cortisol levels (one of the hormones related to stress) after outdoor activities. In addition, we increase levels of dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, hormones related to well-being. Such psychological well-being and emotional management is directly related to physical well-being, increased pain threshold and improved immune system.
Stimulating the brain
Nature constantly offers multiple stimuli, it is full of opportunities, challenges and different scenarios. This is very interesting to stimulate the brain of the whole family, children and adults, while practicing an outdoor activity.
Burn more calories and with more creativity
Doing sport outdoors in cold weather increases energy expenditure compared to doing it indoors in more pleasant temperatures. In addition, doing cardiovascular exercise outdoors, such as running, may result in a higher calorie expenditure than doing it in the gym. When running or walking in nature we encounter irregular paths, wind resistance, different slopes and with this, in addition to making a greater effort, we exercise a wide variety of muscle groups.
Getting fit as a family and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle
It is a very easy way to do sports with the little ones, obtaining a double benefit for parents and children. In addition, it encourages children to live and learn healthy habits directly from their parents.
Covering a basic human need
Human beings need nature and the outdoors to feel good. They have what is called biophilia, that is, a deep and innate affinity to nature, as well as an intrinsic and emotional connection with other living beings. This would explain why, when contact with nature is null or insufficient, certain diseases and pathological conditions begin to appear. Since outdoor activities expose the body’s sensory systems to the multitude of natural stimuli, these innate biophilic human needs are satisfied and physical and emotional well-being is achieved.