Fall has arrived! Take advantage of this season and spend as much time as possible outside. There are true health benefits to being outside-so use these months to breathe in the fresh air!
Moving our bodies show great benefits for our overall health, but exercising outside seems to be even more beneficial! While getting outside in an urban setting can benefit your health physically by just moving, try to find a green place to spend your outdoor time before it gets too cold.
It’s easier to exercise outside. Working out can be a struggle for many people. This may be due to busy schedules, family commitments or just the lack of enjoyment. It has been shown that being outside in a more open and green place makes it easier to work out. Try exploring a local park it by walking, biking or running. Biking for 30 minutes on a stationary bike in a stuffy basement just cannot compete with a bike ride through a beautiful green park.
‘Green Time’ Improves Concentration. Kids who are exposed to more nature and greenery show improved concentration ability and reduced attention span issues. The research on this is so strong researchers believe ‘green time’ can be as effective as one dose of ADHD medication for children. Since ADHD medication can often affect sleep and appetite, this could be a good option for some.
Being Outside Can Improve the Aging Process. Getting outside matters. In case you aren’t convinced yet, it can even help you age better! By getting outside daily, you may have less muscle pain, better sleep and a slower decline in activities of daily living. Leaving the house, and getting outside keeps the healthy healthier.
It’s Good for your Brain. David Strayer, a psychologist who focuses on attention, explains that our brain is easily fatigued. Just like our legs after a run, or arms after pushups, our brain needs to slow down to restore and maximize our mental performance. Strayer researched a method called the 3-day effect— where spending three days in nature allows your brain to slow down and restore. He demonstrated the effectiveness with a group performing 50 percent better on creative problem-solving tasks after spending three days backpacking in the wilderness.
Combining social interaction with fresh air might even provide stronger health benefits including mental and emotional well-being. We have all felt better once we’ve gotten outside to a place we enjoy, and research is now showing actual improvement in mental health and well-being. Prevalence of mental illness has increased as more people live and work in urban settings. Access to green grass can be vital for our well-being!
Go Barefoot. Grounding is a term that is slowly making its way to scientific research to describe the benefits of connecting our bodies to the earth via direct contact. The surface of the earth has a continuous supply of free electrons. Our shoes or buildings often block contact with these electrons. These electrons, it has been suggested, can neutralize the free radicals in the body that create systemic inflammation. While not everyone is on board with these ideas, it might be another reason that outdoor activities such as tent camping or walking on the beach barefoot feels so good! A few ways to practice grounding is to simply take off your shoes and walk. Not everywhere is safe walking barefoot, but use your best safety precautions and find a clean place to walk barefoot.
Doctors are prescribing parks. Health care providers are now jumping on board with these concepts by prescribing parks! ParkRx is a nationwide initiative for providers to prescribe a park visit. Due to the extensive research about the benefits of nature, providers are enthusiastic about this program. The average adult spends less than 5% of their time outdoors. This disconnect with nature combined with our sedentary lifestyles calls for a program like Park Rx.
Feeling like getting outside? Find a local park and spend some time enjoying the fall colors and smells. Your brain and body will thank you!