1. Reduced Blood Pressure
Studies from the University of Queensland, in Australia, demonstrate that being outside in nature for just thirty minutes a week can result in a blood pressure reduction of up to nine percent. This is simply the result of being outside, away from technology and closed in spaces. Fresh air alone is good for your body.
2. Improvement to Eyesight
Just one hour of sunlight each day can actually decrease your risk of nearsightedness (myopia). Research suggests that lack of time outdoors has created a worldwide increased risk of myopia. With hours of computer use and other technology taking the place of time spent out of doors, by adulthood, one in three adults in America will develop myopia, while elsewhere in the world that figure is as high as ninety-five percent. A Canadian study supports the idea that for each additional hour a child spends outside per week, their risk of developing myopia decreases by fourteen percent.
3. Better Cognition and Memory
Even a short walk through a garden can boost performance on memory and attention tests by twenty percent and that’s no small feat. However, spending longer periods outside produce even more impressive statistics. Subjects in one experiment spent four whole days disconnected from technology- no internet, no phone- while camping in the outdoors. Upon completion of those days, they were each given various problem solving tasks. Every participant performed a full fifty percent better on the test than they did prior to the experiment. The conclusion is that being out in nature improves cognition and extends our memory functionality, particularly important given the prevalence of time spent inside and in front of computer screens and televisions.
4. Reduces the Symptoms of Depression
In a recent study, results show that after spending just thirty minutes outside in nature in a week, clinical symptoms of depression were reduced by over seven percent. A survey taken in 2018 of visitors to Jefferson County Parks in Colorado revealed that a full fifty-five percent of those asked stated that the time spent outside walking in the park was extremely beneficial to their feeling of emotional well-being. Several other studies likewise support the notion that being outside improves your sense of mental wellness while decreasing the overall risk of developing clinical depression.
5. Time Outside Reduces Unhealthy Cravings
Spending time in green spaces can actually reduce your desire for unhealthy substances, such as alcohol, tobacco and fried foods. This effect occurs with or without physical exercise. Simply being outside reduces the overall desire for those unhealthy objects. By demonstrating that exposure to the outdoors reduces the craving for those damaging substances, it is hoped that more green space is developed to promote global health, getting people from behind their desks and out in nature.
6. Walking in the Forest Can Ease Chronic Pain
Many times, people suffering from chronic pain as a result of a myriad of medical conditions often have to limit their activity, simply because it hurts too much. There is a school of thought that tells us that taking a walk in the forest, while inhaling the chemicals given off by the trees themselves, activates our parasympathetic nervous system. While this also has a marked effect on overall mental health, this study suggests that for those suffering from chronic pain, forest therapy helped reduce reliance on prescription medication, as well. Trials are still ongoing, but these are promising results for a large population who are limited by chronic pain conditions.
There are so many benefits to getting outside and away from technology. There are plenty of known benefits, yet for every benefit known, there are plenty of other amazing benefits to humanity’s well-being still being discovered. So instead of getting drive-thru lunch, pack up a tasty, healthy picnic and eat outside in the sunshine. Your mind and body will thank you.
This blog was written for us by Dr. Pete Hinz of Cool Springs Chiropractic