With the long days of summer still ahead, it’s a great time to get outside – to bike, take a walk, enjoy a picnic, or sit on the patio or deck as daylight begins to fade. There are many benefits to spending time outdoors
- Spending time outdoors, especially in nature, can improve your short-term memory and sharpen your focus. Walking in a park, forest preserve, or in any green space can help you if you need to take a test or want to remember details of a recent event or conversation. In addition, if you are having trouble focusing on a project or task, time spent outside can help bring your attention back to the job at hand.
- Green space time can lower your blood pressure by helping you to de-stress. Whether that time is spent sitting near your own garden or enjoying a public park, time spent in nature is good for the heart. This benefit is a result of a reduction of cortisol, the stress hormone that drives up blood pressure. Can’t get outside? Research even points to the view of nature as a stress reducer. Gaze out a window that provides you with a good view of plants, trees, or flowers to de-stress.
- Spending time outdoors can boost your immune system. Since time in nature is a good way to reduce stress, it makes sense that it can improve immunity since stress harms your immune system. Not only is outdoor activity a healthy physical boost to your health, your mental and emotional health improves when spending time in nature.
- Time outside can increase your energy and creativity. We seek fresh air when we are fatigued, and sunshine is a signal to get up and go. Those trying to come up with an idea or work through a problem are encouraged to spend time in nature. Psychologists from the University of Kansas and the University of Utah theorize that time spent in nature reduces the activity in the part of the brain that is used for executive functioning (answering emails, making to-do lists, completing reports). This allows for greater activity in the part of the brain that is imaginative and problem solving.
We live in a technology-driven world and spend less time out in nature than we did 50 years ago. Decide to get outside regularly, to stop and appreciate any large or small green space. Take time this summer to reconnect with nature; it’s a great way to take care of yourself!