Posts Tagged ‘health benefits’

Get Outside at Any Age

The weather is warming up, the sun is out, and we Michiganders are beginning to venture outside after the long, gray winter.

Have you ever spent the day outside doing something, anything, and felt better afterward? Turns out, there’s a scientific reason for that. Numerous studies have shown that spending time outside, or even just looking out a window at a nature-filled view, has tons of benefits for our physical and mental health.

Unfortunately, as we get older, the motivation to go outside decreases. There’s no time, you have no energy, you don’t know what to do. As age progresses physical limitations get in the way too. Yet the older we get, the more important it is to get out and move.

Age should not be a limiting factor. You can enjoy yourself and feel better no matter how old you are, just like this video by Attn: and REI shows.

 

Don’t believe the video? How about Harvard?

Spending time outdoors is good for you, from the Harvard Health Letter

Published: July, 2010

Summer is here. The outdoors beckons. Heed that call and you’ll reap physical and mental health benefits, reports the July 2010 issue of the Harvard Health Letter. Here are five good reasons to get outdoors:

Your vitamin D levels rise. Sunlight hitting the skin begins a process that leads to the creation and activation of vitamin D. Studies suggest that this vitamin helps fight certain conditions, from osteoporosis and cancer to depression and heart attacks. Limited sun exposure (don’t overdo it), supplemented with vitamin D pills if necessary, is a good regimen.

You’ll get more exercise. If you make getting outside a goal, that should mean less time in front of the television and computer and more time walking and doing other things that put the body in motion.

You’ll be happier. Light tends to elevate people’s mood, and there’s usually more light available outside than in. Physical activity has been shown to help people relax and cheer up, so if being outside replaces inactive pursuits with active ones, it might also mean more smiles.

Your concentration will improve. Children with ADHD seem to focus better after being outdoors. It might be a stretch to say that applies to adults, but if you have trouble concentrating, outdoor activity may help.

You may heal faster. In one study, people recovering from spinal surgery experienced less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications when they were exposed to natural light. An older study showed that the view out the window (trees vs. a brick wall) helped recovery in the hospital.

Read the full-length article: “A prescription for better health—go alfresco”

 

We hope you get out and enjoy the outdoors this year. Whether that means taking a bike ride across the state, staying home gardening in your yard, or anything and everything in between. We have a beautiful state Michigan, let’s have fun in it!

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Outside during winter? Who would have thought?

Here in the northern states we tend to hide in our homes when the mercury drops and, like the precognitive groundhog, don’t emerge again until spring.  But there are plenty of reasons to venture out of doors during the winter months.  Some of which you may not have known about.

No More Winter Blues

The colder weather, along with the endless succession of cloudy days, can lead to depression from spending too much time inside.  Getting outside, even for a little while, can help relieve some of the winter doldrums.  Sunlight, yes it’s there even if it’s hard to see, can actually improve your mood by releasing neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood.  Exercise does the same thing.  So take up a winter sport, go on a winter walk, do some wildlife watching or photography, or just make a snowman in your front yard.  You’ll feel better.

Vitamin D

Sunlight also has the added benefit of providing us with much needed Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is essential to developing bones and fighting off illness and disease.  It has also been shown to give your immune system a boost, something that may prove very beneficial this flu season.  Many adults and children don’t get enough Vitamin D in their diets, but the sun benefits us by letting us absorb it through our skin!  Just be sure not to expose too much skin, it is winter after all.

Fresh Air Anyone?

Being outside can have a multitude of positive affects on your health.  One of the simplest is just being able to get fresh air.  Getting out gets you away from the cleaning fumes, detergents, automobile exhaust, or second-hand smoke you might be breathing on a daily basis.  Nature also helps people relax.  By stepping away from the cell phone, TV, and internet you are able to form a connection to nature and forget the to-do list – for awhile at least.

Better Overall Health

Anyone who has spent time working behind a desk is familiar with how your eyes feel at the end of a long day.  In this type of environment, we spend most of our time focusing on things directly in front of us – computers, paperwork, etc.  Nature relieves that eye strain by giving your eyes several different things to focus on at several different distances.  Think of it as an exercise for your pupils.  In addition, studies have shown that memory performance and attention spans improved by 2o% in people after they spent an hour outdoors.  Going outside also has therapeutic affects that can increase your energy levels, something everyone needs from time to time.

Wildlife Opportunities

Even in winter, there are a lot of birds and mammals out and about.  If you are interested in seeing more animals in your area, winter might be the best time to do it.  Since a lot of the trees have lost their leaves and the ground cover has died back, there is less vegetation for animals to hide in.  Take a quiet stroll through a park, nature center, or even your yard and see how much you can find.

Don’t think there are accessible natural areas in your area?  Visit the Natural Wildlife Federation’s Nature Find page.  You might find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Hopefully this has inspired you to bundle up, brave the elements, and get outdoors for some winter fun!