15 Reasons to Spend More Time Outdoors

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach of us more than we can ever learn from books. –John Lubbock

I try to spend at least 20 minutes every day outside, whatever the weather.  I do this because even on they grey, cloud infested sky days, my body still needs to get its daily dose of vitamin D.

If I don’t I’ve noticed I suffer.  I get down, melancholy and as the nights start to draw in – depressed.  At first I thought it silly that weather could affect me so much but I’ve since come to realise that it’s probably the number one influence on my mood and general feeling of wellbeing.  I can cope with cold temperatures no problem, but not darkness, nor dull skies that threaten rain day after day.

Of course, I can’t change the weather and I can’t up and leave to warmer climes six months of the year (or eight months in the case of the UK).  Although I do keep looking!

Which only leaves the last factor in all this – me.  What can I do to make sure my mood is lightened and not darkened by weather?  Head outside and so I do.

In-fact I really enjoy being outside. I garden, I walk the dog and when I can I even take my writing outside. Any excuse to sit and enjoy nature is a real joy but it always helps when the weather is on the nice side. I’ve worked, and continue to build up, the lifelong habit of ensuring that I don’t just go outside on nice, sunny days.  But even I need good reasons to help get me outside on the dull days.

Here are 15 reasons to go outside even when it’s grey outside:

  1. It lifts your mood.  Just taking a five-minute walk can really break up your thinking and turn your mood around.  The fresh air alone can just make you feel fresh.  Combine that with a walk or a hike in the countryside and it won’t be long before your overall mood is lifted higher.
  2. Green space may well increase your life expect.  A study conducted in Japan showed longevity in older citizens who had access to parks and green spaces.  It probably doesn’t need a study because it’s a natural thing to not only be pulled to greener spaces but actively seek them out against the concrete areas of the urbanised sprawl.  Throughout history, parks have been an important feature in British cities and towns.  Creating spaces of quiet and tranquillity against traffic and noise.
  3. Improves your physical health.  The more time you spend outside the more exercise you’re getting and that’s always a good thing.  Sometimes it’s not always possible to head to a national park or the coast but just a walk around your local neighbourhood can be just good.
  4. Gives you time to think.  Moving yourself away from your desk, TV or current work place can be a real boost.  It can give you that much needed time to work through problems or queries in your head and come back with a new perspective.
  5. Get’s you closer to nature.  By spending time outdoors you’re appreciating not only the weather but the tree’s, the flowers, any wildlife you may see.  Suddenly you feel connected to a much greater and wonderful world, especially if you can bring loved ones with you too.
  6. Learn new things.  You learn about yourself, you learn about nature.  Just by being outside and spending more time outside you start to learn all sorts of new things.
  7. Boost the Vitamin D process.  By being outside for 10-20 minutes will kickstart your vitamin D levels.  Doesn’t matter if it isn’t sunny – it’s all about the absorbing the light.  The sunnier it is the less time you need – be wary of those rays on bare skin!
  8. Gain happiness.  Some people, like me, feel a great sense of happiness when outside.  I feel free and lighter in mood.  The further into the wild I go the happier I become.  Research has shown that spending time outside, in green areas, increases brain waves, resulting from more engagement and creating happiness vibes, than those who walked around urban commercial areas.
  9. See new places.  Explore, get lost.  Use going outdoors as an excuse to have an adventure, not a chore.
  10. Make new friends.  It could be that by spending more time outside you make new friends.  A walking group, an orienteering course, or just a few mates taking their dogs out to the park together. Or families picnicking at the weekend.  The outdoors can bring people together like no other.
  11. Or…find alone time.  If getting away from the crowd is what you want then the outdoors is also the best place to find peace within yourself and enjoy your own company for a change.
  12. Take a break from technology.  Go outside without your phone, fitbit or any other peice of equipment
    you hold onto daily.  Experience time away from it and notice how it makes you feel.  Better or worse?  Do it again and again.  You may come to find that the technology isn’t that important when watching kingfishers on a pond, or walking a trail.
  13. Dress for the weather.  Don’t let rain (or worse wind) put you off going outside.  Even for ten minutes.  Have a waterproof coat to hand and wellies.  So what if you get wet, it’s only 10 minutes!
  14. Stops you (or your children) becoming near sighted.  Younger eyes need to develop by spending time outside, in daylight.  The less time kids spend outside the bigger risk for increasing myopia.  
  15. Helps you sleep.  Anyone who has spent a day at the beach will always declare their sleepiness to come down to – “sea air!”  I could only find one study about this and it relates to sea air and children with respiratory complaints that found a 15 minute walk along the beach could indeed help reduce complaints significantly.  But I think the sea air fatigue comes from two things – enjoying yourself, and thus both relaxing and exerting yourself in equal measure which always makes for a good nights sleep.

So going outside doesn’t only help your mental and physical states, it also helps to connect you with the most important aspect of life – nature and the world around you.

Question of the week:- which type of outdoor setting do you feel most relaxed?  Beach, carpark, woods or somewhere else?

Until next time.  Wishing you a great Green week.

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6 thoughts on “15 Reasons to Spend More Time Outdoors

      1. Lindsay is located in the Kawartha Lakes region. Surrounded by forests. The nearest is Ken Reid Conservation Area located 3 km north of Lindsay, Ontario. Hikers and tourists would love the entire region with lakes, rivers, trails and resorts and campgrounds.

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  1. Anywhere! Though woods and countryside in general or by the sea (for the sea not the beach).

    I didn’t realise kids were more likely to become short-sighted if they spent more time indoors.

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    1. The studies sited are simply statistical correlations. Not a definitive cause and effect between myopia and outdoor activities.

      That is, the data may show a correlation that indicates that those that experience more outdoor activities are less myopic but that may not mean that outdoor activities affect myopia. It may be the other way around — as a child becomes myopic, they go less outdoors into a fuzzy, unclear world. In other words, if one is genetically developing myopia, then one may be less inclined to participate in outdoor activities simply because one can not see the great outdoors as well.

      Take my case. My father was myopic. My sister is a book worm. I was the outdoor kid. But I ended up actually being more myopic than my sister (and I have an astigmatism which my sister does not have). I just got glasses and continued to play outdoors (but I changed my sports from contact sports to non-contact sports like cycling), and was, and still today, more active outdoors than my sister. Of course, one comparison does not make a valid proof or dis-proof. I only mention this to show that it really is far more complicated than “just” spending more time outside.

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