Living in the city can be such an exciting ride, with so much to do all of the time, and an enlivening energy in the air. Yet there are many benefits to being in nature that we can easily forget when we are caught up in work, our to-do list, and our social sphere. Whenever we do make the time, it tends to be something refreshing and memorable. Spending time in nature has many benefits for us and our health that stem beyond simply giving us a break from our routine and the city landscape. The benefits of being outside are infinite, here are just a few that I hope can motivate us all to remember to get outside more in the new year.
- Fresh Air
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of being in nature is to get outside and out of the city is to get some fresh air. Clean, unpolluted air is beneficial for your health, whereas indoor and outdoor pollutants that we are exposed to every day are even more detrimental. Illnesses ranging from moderate such as bronchitis to severe such as lung cancer and heart disease have been linked to polluted air many of us breathe day in and day out.
- Vitamin D
The best way to get this essential hormone Vitamin D is from natural sunlight. Although it is found minimally in many foods and can also be taken as a dietary supplement, there is no better source for Vitamin D than sun exposure. Our skin, hormone regulation, immune system and bone health all thrive when we get an abundance of Vitamin D.
- Better Sleep
One of the popular excuses for not getting outside is that we are simply too tired, or don’t have enough time. It’s not that we don’t want to, but we can’t quite get up the energy to go. A major benefit of spending time in nature and getting outside is that it can actually improve our sleep, and energize our bodies, giving us more energy than we started with. The circadian rhythm is the internal clock that our body regulated sleep to, getting outside and spending time in the sun and the natural way of things can allow our body’s sleep schedule to be regulated.
- Psychological Health
Have you ever noticed that people who spend more time in nature also tend to be more happy and positive? Improving our mental well-being is perhaps the most important benefit of being in nature. It’s more than just a coincidence that many outdoor folk are a bit more chipper than the city crowd. Spending time outdoors and in nature boosts serotonin (the neurotransmitter that makes you happy), increased brain activity (the parts that may have fallen asleep in the mundane daily routine), and even emotional stability. Getting a new perspective away from the stresses, crowds and routines of daily life can be the perfect anti-stress and anti-depressant, whatever your situation.
- Physical Exercise
We all know that we need to exercise to be healthy, but getting into the car after we’ve been driving in traffic all day, or going to a crowded and sweaty gym or class may not sound so appealing. No wonder each new year we have to remotivate ourselves to get active, it’s simply not enjoyable in most ways that we decide to exercise. Going on a nature hike, riding a bike, or taking your run from the treadmill to a trail will not only be more enjoyable, but it will make you more fit and provide many benefits to your mental and physical health, making your new years resolution to get fit something that is fun and nor forced.