With everything going on in the world right now, the outdoors and outdoor activities are becoming more and more popular; be it boating, camping, hiking, biking or just reading a book in the park.
We all know staying healthy during these times is important – for both physical health and mental health.
The Benefits of Outdoor Activity
So what are the benefits of spending time outdoors??? Here are some points that I found quite relevant during these times. Hopefully they provide extra motivation and encouragement to step out the door and immerse ourselves in nature!
1. Boosts self-esteem & reduces anxiety.
- As little as five minutes of outdoor activity has been shown to help improve your self-esteem; and the effects appear to be greater if you’re near water or green space.
- One study showed moderate levels of physical activity such as walking, biking or gardening were the best outdoor activities for improving mental health.
- Spending time outdoors has also been shown to help to reduce feelings of anxiety.
- Sunlight helps keep your serotonin levels up.
- Serotonin is a hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being and happiness. It also helps with sleeping, eating and digestion!
- Sun exposure is an easy way for most to get Vitamin D.
- Vitamin D is important for bones, blood cells and immune system function.
- See above point PLUS sunlight also seems to strengthen special cells in your immune system called T cells that help fight infection and boost immune function
- Spending more time outdoors typically means more physical activity and improved sleep. Both physical activity and adequate sleep help to burn calories.
- Studies have shown time in nature can boost creative problem solving abilities.
- Outdoor activities were found to be better for restoring attention compared to indoor activities.
- Melatonin is a hormone produced via sun exposure and helps with inducing sleep.
- Cells in your eyes also need enough light to get your body’s internal clock working right. Early morning sunlight in particular has been shown to help people fall asleep at night.
- Being outdoors typically allows you to connect with more people and places in your community.
- Human contact and a sense of community are important to your mental health.
- Just head out the door... walk around the block... work in the garden... play with the kids at the park... to get in your daily dose of exercise or physical activity.
- Green spaces were associated with better self perceived general health and better mental health (ie: people FEEL GOOD when they spend time outdoors).
- Outdoor exercise plays a role BUT nature based outdoor activities yield benefits additional to those of exercise alone!!!
Side note: do you have a favourite outdoor location that you love to go to... in Saskatoon, outside of Saskatoon? Let us know! We would love to hear about some of the local outdoor sites around our communities! Click the icon below to SHARE with us!
- Triguero, Margarita et al. (2015) Natural outdoor environments and mental and physical health: relationships and mechanisms. Environment International 77, 35-41, 2015.
- Pei-Yi Weng, Yen-Cheng Chiang. (2014) Psychological restoration through indoor and outdoor leisure activities. Journal of Leisure Research 46:2, 203-217.
- Buckley R, Brough P, Westaway D. (2018). Bringing Outdoor Therapies into mainstream mental health. Frontiers in Public Health.
- Mead, Nathaniel. Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health. Environ Health Perspect. 2008 May; 116(5).
- WebMD. Health Benefits of Getting Outside.