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Why Outdoors Is Good For You

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

June is National Great Outdoors Month.


You will probably see lots of encouragement across social media to get outside.


But do you know why being outside is so good for you and why it is often encouraged by health, mental health and fitness professionals alike?

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is very important for your body. It is a fat soluble vitamin that, among other things, aids the absorption of calcium. Calcium is important for healthy strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D also helps support your muscles, nerves and immune system. This nutrient is so important to our bodies that a lack of vitamin D can, according to the NHS website, lead to deformities such as Rickets. It can also mean our bodies are less able to fight germs as it normally would.


One of the best sources of vitamin D is the sun and in fact during the summer months most people should be able to get all they need from the sun. During the winter months especially here in the UK, the sun is not always enough. But even then the advice is still to get outside and get sunlight on your skin. It is quite hard to get enough vitamin D from your diet as it is found in very few foods so the NHS recommend other sources, mainly supplements, to help boost your vitamin d alongside exposure to the sun.


Sunlight

Sunlight isn't just good for help you make vitamin D. Getting out into the sunlight is also good for lifting you mood as it boost serotonin levels. Because of this is can help reduce anxiety and depression. Good serotonin levels help keep your energy levels up and keeps your mood calm and positive. This can also lead to improved self-esteem.


Sleep

It's that magical sunlight again. Exposure to the sun helps regulate your circadian cycle. It basically helps set your internal body clock, helping set your sleep cycle. Early morning sun is best for this.


Creativity & problem solving

It is suggested by various medical websites that being outside can also help your brain with creativity and problem solving. Nature engages the brain in a simpler less taxing way which refocuses your attention and allows your brain chance to develop a new thought pattern.


Exercise

We all know that exercise is good for our health, is also becoming more common knowledge that it's also good for your mental health due to the feel good endorphins it helps release that boost your mood for the better. But did you know that getting outside can help with this?


Being outside is good for your exercise levels as when you are outside you are more likely to move around and explore your environment. Be honest if you think about going outside what are you usually planning to do? Go for a walk? Or maybe something physical such as gardening? Going to the park with the kids or the grandkids? See all things that count as exercise and that will help get those endorphins flowing!


Social

This can be an odd one but for a lot of people going outside usually means going with someone or a group of someones. Therefore being outside can help your social interactions, help you connect with people and ultimately help you feel less alone.


Calming

The last reason to get outside is a little different to the others as it means staying still rather than moving around. For the same reason that being outside can distract the brain when suck on a problem is can also distract you from your worries and stresses. It has a mindfulness effect - you notice nature, the plants, the animals, your surroundings and your troubles fade away for a while. There is a reason a lot of relaxation music centres around the sounds of nature such as bird song and the sounds of water. Greens and blue are also seen as relaxing colours and you will see a lot of green and blue in nature!


The key here is to take your cues from 'forest bathing' which is an ancient Japanese tradition. To get started you simply need to find a quiet place amongst the trees and stop. Take a few deep breaths and look around. Focus on all the senses - what can you see? what can you hear? what can you smell? what can you touch? Don't do anything, just sit, or stand a quietly and observe.


Forestry England has more great advice to help you as well as some suggestions on where to go to practice your forest bathing.


So what are you waiting for? Get yourself outside!


Victoria xx


P.S.

Remember you are in the Uk though, make sure to take an umbrella...just in case...


Sources:





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