Get outside and be healthy

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Everyone is cooped up indoors and getting on each other’s nerves. Your favorite Nature Center is closed to the public. What can be done?

A good alternative is to get outside!

The mental and physical benefits of spending time outside are numerous. Whether it’s playing, running, breathing in clear air, gardening, or just sitting in the sun, being outside gives your body some much-needed juice to make you more energetic and healthy. Studies have shown that nature is good for your health by reducing stress and depression while increasing brain functions and strengthening the immune system. The sun gives plenty of Vitamin D, which helps with bone and muscle health.

“University of Pittsburgh researchers reported in 2005 that spinal surgery patients experienced less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications during their recoveries if they were exposed to natural light,” said a report from Harvard Medical School. “An older study showed that the view out the window (trees vs. a brick wall) had an effect on patient recovery. Of course, windows and views are different than actually being outside, but we’re betting that adding a little fresh air to the equation couldn’t hurt and might help.”

Get out on some hiking trails, whether working up a sweat or just going for a leisurely stroll. Take a moment in nature, surrounded by birds or trees, and relax. You can do so much by yourself or with a friend or family member. Trails and open spaces are critical to people at this time. They are havens, allowing for recreation and activity when people are discouraged from being in large crowds in theaters, gyms, or restaurants.

“…one of the really interesting things we found is that exposure to greenspace significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol — a physiological marker of stress,” said Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, from University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School.

If all that doesn’t convince you, maybe this will: spending time outside can make you generally happier.

“In 2010 the English scientists reported results from a meta-analysis of their own studies that showed just five minutes of green exercise resulted in improvements in self-esteem and mood,” reports Harvard Medical School.

With all this trouble around us, that has to count for something, right?