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The health benefits of nature are far-reaching. Here are 5 of the most compelling reasons for you to spend more time in the great outdoors.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. – Sir Randulph Fiennes
This quote was recently brought to my attention by my mom, and I think it’s SO true. The benefits of nature cannot be overrated. Being brought up in the deep south, inclement weather was an occasional thing – so when it happened, we stayed inside.
Then, I moved to Scotland. Inclement weather was the rule, not the exception. Being in the habit of staying inside when it rains can make you go stir crazy REAL fast when you live in a rainy climate. After a while I learned that if you don’t go outside when it’s raining, you’ll never go outside! So we just learned to dress the part and get out there.
It’s no secret that our ancestors spent a lot more time outside than we do. From farming & foraging to chores & cleaning, being outside was a way of life – they had to do it to survive, regardless of weather.
Why Is It So Important to Go Outside?
There are lots of reasons for this, but here are a few of the most important ones:
1. Vitamin D
This is probably the most well-known fact about going outside: everyone needs those sunshine vitamins! Vitamin D is a VITAL nutrient which is present in only a few foods. The BEST way to get vitamin D is not through your diet, but through the sun.
Most of us know that Vitamin D affects mood (more on that below), but did you know that it is also the most crucial vitamin for your immune system function? Your body’s ability to fight sickness is directly related to how much time you spend in the sun. Vitamin D has just been shown as the #1 cancer fighting vitamin! Read more here.
If you live where the sun don’t shine, not to worry. You can still get some D when it’s cloudy outside. Also, a sun lamp like this is a great way to get your levels up. Also, focus on the few foods that have natural vitamin D – such as egg yolks and real whole milk. Here’s a great article on getting more vitamin D.
Vitamin D has a direct link to mood, so that’s another great reason to get enough. But I think the mood aspect goes deeper than just a vitamin.
Going outside and connecting with nature just makes you feel better. Perhaps it’s the wide open spaces, the sounds, the breeze… everything outside was created for us to enjoy. Have you ever spent a long time indoors and just started to feel… gross?
When my first baby was born, he got a respiratory infection at I remember at one point I was home with him for 9 days straight. In the dead of winter. Talk about depressing – and I do believe this played a part in my battle with depression.
There’s just something rejuvenating about going for a walk and connecting with the great outdoors that makes us feel more alive and human.
3. Fresh air
Breathing in the fresh air doesn’t just smell good, one of the benefits of nature is better health!
Thanks to the abundance of trees and plants, the air outside is just cleaner. This is great for your respiratory system and creates a higher level of oxygen, which benefits your entire body. Also, that “outdoor smell” promotes relaxation and rejuvenation of mind and body. Read more here.
Side note: It’s important to air out your house once in a while for this very reason. Letting fresh air flow through helps prevent mold and keeps your family healthy. Also, get some houseplants to help clean your inside air! Here’s a great post on the best plants to clean the air.
4. Soil Based Organisms
Yes, there are actually beneficial organisms and probiotics found in dirt! These organisms make you happier, healthier, and improve your gut health.
When was the last time you gardened, plucked food and ate it straight from the ground, or made mud pies?
Our culture is so obsessed with cleaning and disinfecting everything, that we are missing out on these wonderful health protecting organisms! Read this amazing article by Dr. Josh Axe for more information on how to incorporate this concept into your daily life. He’s even written a book about it called “Eat Dirt.”
This one might sound a bit woo-woo, but stick with me.
Earthing is the practice of walking barefoot, sitting or sleeping outside – basically doing anything that causes you to come into direct contact with the earth and reap the benefits of nature.
Here’s a summary from Wellness Mama:
When in direct contact with the Earth, your body becomes suffused with negative charged free electrons and equalizes to the same electric energy level as the earth.
Research is showing that earthing can reduce inflammation, stress, pain, and promote better sleep and improved energy.
Another great reason to go outside more!
Remember – the next time you feel unwell or stressed, try going outside! The benefits of nature go beyond our understanding.
Stay tuned for the next post… we’re going to dive into several practical ways to make going outside a part of your lifestyle.
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What’s your favorite thing about the great outdoors?