Why You Need to Get Outside
As the days draw in and get darker and shorter, it’s all too tempting to hunker down indoors and stay put, but ensuring we spend enough time outside is crucial, not just for our wellbeing but our health too. Here are five reasons why getting out and about in nature, even during the winter months, is so important.
Encourages better sleep
Insomnia whether because of stress, medication or lifestyle choices, plays havoc with your circadian rhythm. Not only does not sleeping well cause issues with everything from weight gain to memory loss, but it can also have a big impact on low mood and is something that can be made worse as the days draw in and get darker. Getting outside and experiencing daily exposure to natural light is a great way to kick start a sluggish natural body clock as it helps re-establish our connection to night and day and, in other words, when we should be sleeping and when we should be awake. Being outside also boosts serotonin which elevates mood, and it improves energy levels, both of which can help reinstate good, healthy sleep patterns
Helps maintain good immunity
Healthy doses of nature, and all the challenges being in it presents with exposure to foreign pathogens, plays an important role in supporting our body’s immune system in a way that staying indoors doesn’t do. Some studies have shown that regular exposure to the outdoors increases white blood cells, cells in the body which are responsible for fighting off infection efficiently.
Just as sight breaks are important when stuck in front of a screen all day, getting outside and immersing yourself in nature is so important when it comes to sharpening your focus and improving productivity. A 2009 study on a group of children with attention deficient disorders revealed that spending just 20 minutes in a local park was sufficient enough to boost attention performance in the group.
Spending regular periods of time outside has been shown to reduce cortisol levels in the body, the stress hormone that’s triggered when we enter into fight or flight mode. Being outside also reduces blood pressure and lowers the heart rate, helping us to feel calmer and less anxious.
Improves your eyesight
The effect of the pandemic and WFH on our collective eyesight has been huge, with more of us than ever spending longer and longer in front of screens; an average of 6 and a half hours every day or 45 hours each week according to a 2020 survey by Ofcom. This surge in screen time has had a detrimental effect with more 80% of adults now reporting symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome which can range from redness and irritation, eye spasms and severe watering to blurry or fluctuating vision. To combat this, get outside; one study that followed a group of Australian school children revealed that time spent outside significantly reduced their risk of becoming near-sighted.