8 Reasons to get outside this summer - you know you want to!
If you're anything like most of us, the majority of your day is probably spent indoors, at a desk, or in a shop, or other working environment. It can be hard to make sure you're getting enough time outside during the working week, particularly if you work long hours. But being stuck inside is bad news for your health and happiness - so we've got 8 reasons to get outside this summer.
#1. Being outside is good for your heart
Research carried out in Japan (1) revealed that spending time outside in the forest was an excellent way to lower blood pressure and reduce your heart rate - it's thought it could even decrease levels of stress hormones in our bodies. Why not go for a walk or bike ride in the countryside this summer to get those endorphins flowing?
#2. Get happier and boost your memory
Did you know that those who spend more time outside at one with nature are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety? Spending time walking outside has been shown to improve your mood as well as boosting your short-term memory (2) - it can also help if you're prone to ruminating over your worries, as you're less likely to do this the more time you spend outside.
#3. Synchronise your body clock
Our body's internal clock, or our circadian rhythms, can be disrupted by stress, poor diet and sleepless nights. But by spending more time outside, away from artificial lights, you can help to 'reset' your body's natural rhythms, readjusting to a normal sleep/wake cycle. So you'll be more likely to feel naturally sleepy when it's dark and wake up as the sun shines in. Who knows, you may even become a morning person!
#4. Boost brain function
Research has shown that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experienced decreased symptoms when spending time outside in nature (3). As adults, we could benefit from a concentration boost and better work productivity by getting some outside time every day. Try going for a walk on your lunch break or enjoy a morning run before work - even switching up your daily commute by train or bus and walking to work can help!
#5. Reduce your chances of obesity
As children, we probably spent more time playing outdoors than children do nowadays - most of us didn't have the vast array of gadgets that are available to keep kids entertained nowadays. But could there be a link between the time spent indoors and rising childhood obesity rates? Access to nature has been proven to lower obesity risk for both children and adults and it's thought that an increase in physical activity could be the cause. Because spending time outside decreases your cortisol and blood sugar levels, you're more likely to stay a healthy weight if you spend more time outdoors. So why not take your workout outside this summer?
#6. Have a healthier immune system
Exposure to the natural world can improve the function of your immune system and increase the production of cells that fight off infection and disease (4). Just don't forget to dress appropriately for the weather, as staying warm in the cold weather will also help to boost your immune system.
#7. Get more out of your workout
A workout is great for your body, even if it's indoors at the gym or yoga studio. But working out in nature has additional benefits for your health and fitness levels - studies show that those who exercise outside feel a greater sense of enjoyment and satisfaction after their workout, as well as experiencing increased energy levels. With the sun shining, summer is a great time to take your workout outside!
#8. Get a mood boost
We're not suggesting that central London at rush hour is going to do anything to improve your mood after a busy day at the office, but getting outside in nature (we love heading down to Kent!) can help you to relax and unwind, boosting your mood naturally, whilst allowing your body to soak up vitamin D from the sun's rays. Next time you feel depression or low mood strike, try getting outside, even for a few hours.
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