Want an easy way to get healthier? Step outside. Evidence shows that being exposed to nature can help improve your blood pressure, brain activity, cognitive function, sleep, physical activity and mental health.1 And you don’t have to be a nature enthusiast who spends hours outdoors to experience these benefits. Even roughly 20 minutes a day or two total hours of outside recreation in a week can be enough to help your overall health.2

Get outside for your mind

Studies have shown that being exposed to natural vs. urban spaces can help improve attention and memory. It can also help your planning skills and reduce stress.1,2 Clear skies seem to foster clear thinking. Try a simple walk to help boost your mood.2 Or just eat lunch outside when weather permits. Getting together with a friend? Suggest meeting in an outdoor space.

Also, being indoors may cause you to continually think about all the things you have to do. What you see is what you get in the sense that just looking at a computer can inspire thoughts of work. Or looking at your living space may tempt you to clean when you could be relaxing. Go outside. Look at the blue sky for a bit and leave your responsibilities behind.

Get outside for your health

Soak up “the sunshine vitamin.”3 Vitamin D is both a hormone that your body makes and a vitamin found in some foods. It plays a role in bone, heart and immune health. And it may also help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Sunlight is needed for your body to make vitamin D. Both forms of vitamin D you can take as supplements naturally occur in the presence of the sun’s ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays.3

Get outside for your happiness

Getting a sense of connection with the natural world can help with happiness and overall well-being.2 This can be explained through a couple of different concepts. The Stress Reduction Theory suggests that spending time in nature triggers a physical response that helps lower stress levels.2 While the Attention Restoration Theory suggests that nature replenishes cognitive and emotional resources.2

Get outside for your sleep

There may be an association between greenspace exposure and improved sleep quality.1 And that’s not even considering how good it feels to rest after spending time outside immersed in the fresh air. Want to sleep better? Learn how.

Get outside for your perspective

The mind has an incredible ability to focus. This is great for the most part. It can become a challenge, though, if you get stuck thinking about one thing and can’t see outside of it. Even stepping outside for just a few minutes can help you break free from a mental block. Getting outside expands your view, literally. Leave your four walls and take in just how big the world is.

Want to get outside of yourself?

Sometimes it helps to let your thoughts and feelings out. Our therapists are here to listen. And you can connect with them from the comfort of your home.

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Take your workouts out! Find ways to stay active outdoors.

Published March 18, 2024


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