Get out there!
By Tricia Neus, MPH, CHES®, CHW
Program Coordinator and Wellness Coach
Methodist Health System
Did you know that Americans spend on average about 90 percent of their time indoors? To put that number in perspective, by the time we are 40, most of us will have spent 36 years of our lives indoors. That’s a lot of time, especially when there’s a great, big, beautiful world outside.
And being indoors all the time has a downside: lack of room to play, move around, and explore; an increased risk of allergies due to exposure to indoor pollutants; an increased risk of seasonal affective disorder; and an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.
You need to get out more
Spring is here, the sun is out, and the great outdoors is calling your name! Research suggests that spending just two hours a week outside can provide numerous benefits to your health and well-being.
How the great outdoors is great for your health:
- It’s good for your mental health, especially when you’re engaged in physical activity like walking, hiking, biking, or running. A 2014 study conducted by the University of Michigan found that people who participated in outdoor walking groups reported significantly lower rates of depression and increased feelings of social connection. They also reported feeling less anxiety. This is because sunlight helps boost serotonin levels, which helps you feel calm, positive, and focused.
- Sunlight increases energy levels.
- It boosts endorphin levels and dopamine production that can promote happiness.
- It helps lower your blood pressure.
- It inspires more exercise. A study found that people who exercise outdoors reported enhanced feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction and declared a stronger intent to do the same activity on multiple days versus people who exercise indoors.
- Sunlight increases your vitamin D. If, like many Americans, you are vitamin D deficient, spending 10 to 15 minutes in sunlight a couple of times a week can help build up your body’s vitamin D levels.
- It boosts your body’s natural killer cells — the ones that help you fight infection. Even seeing nature has health benefits. Studies show that hospital patients in a room looking out onto nature are discharged one day sooner than patients whose rooms face a brick wall.
- It enhances your creativity. Do you ever struggle with brain fog? Studies show that taking a mental break outdoors can increase your creative problem-solving abilities. This is because the outside world engages your attention in a quieter way that lets you refocus. The more time you spend outdoors, the bigger the benefit.
So just get out there and see what happens!
If you’re looking for an organization that is committed to the health and well-being of its employees, take a look at Methodist Health System. Visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSystem.org.
© Methodist Health System