The fact that a quarter of people in the UK will not walk for more than 15 minutes at a time has really shocked me (read it here). I often say I’m a couch potato, I am very good at wasting time sat on my bum watching random stuff on the telly box, but 15 minutes walking is nothing to me, so maybe I need to reconsider my definition of lazy?! Anyway, alongside my #OneHourOutside challenge (starts tomorrow… are you joining in?), I thought I would take another proactive step to do something about this ridiculous statistic and spell out a few of the benefits of getting outside here on my blog.
Sunflowers on a grey day.
I guess most people who read Splodz Blogz already enjoy getting outside, that being one of the main topics I ramble on about, and so I am probably preaching to the converted. But I wanted to present a few reasons why we should all be spending more time outdoors. To spell out the benefits, if you like, to do my bit to try and encourage people (including myself) to leave the house and explore the countryside. To get out into nature and enjoy the beauty of the fresh air.
Exploring woodland in Lincolnshire.
Did you know that it isn’t just me who thinks that getting outside is good for my body, mind and soul? It’s actually pretty well documented that spending time in nature, exploring the countryside, going for a walk and breathing in the fresh air, is good for us. Getting our one hour outside each day can offer relief from all kinds of things, and it is an incredibly good habit to keep. Here are a few of my favourite reasons to spend time outside…
Three Important Benefits of Getting Outside
It relieves stress and helps us feel positive.
Studies have shown that nature walks are great for helping us beat stress and also keep us thinking positive thoughts. For example, a study by the University of Michigan found that getting out on group nature walks enhanced the mental health of those who took part, and lead them to feel more positive. Another study, this time by Chiba University, found that your heart rate is lower in the forest than it is in the city, concluding that stress caused by work can be relieved by heading into woodland. And a study from Glasgow University showed that people who exercised outdoors (walking, cycling or running) had a lower risk of poor mental health than people who worked out indoors. So we can (and should) use getting outside as a remedy for stressful situations, and should make it a habit so we are better prepared to deal with feelings of stress and negativity when they come along.
It helps us think, focus and decide.
Feeling overwhelmed with things on your to do list, or have an important decision to make? A study published in Psychological Science suggests that heading out into the countryside gives you an important break from everyday tasks and stimulation, which in turn can help refocus your mind and improve your attention span. This means that spending time outdoors can help you concentrate on work or study. And because getting outside can help your attention span, you can also expect to get better results; another study found that those who went for a nature walk before taking a proofreading test performed better than those who walked through a busy city or relaxed in an armchair.
Getting outside is also proven to help with our decision making, mainly due to the fact it helps clear our minds and allows us time to sort things through in a space away from the home or office. Next time you’re buying a big ticket item or are deciding on your next step in life, take yourself off for a long walk or cycle ride to give yourself the space and time to think it all through.
It helps us fight illness.
I really like this one… did you know that spending your weekend outside can actually help you fight illness? Research done by the Tokyo Nippon Medical School and found that spending six hours outside over the weekend (three hours each day for two days) leads to an increase in white blood cells (the super important bits in your body that help you fight illness), and that the boost lasted for at least a week afterwards. This is super cool!
And of course I don’t need to tell you that spending time outside being active – whether it’s going for a stroll along a nice trail or doing something more energetic – is good for your fitness too, which in turn helps keep us healthy.
It doesn’t matter where you go, just go outside.
And so, with these examples in mind, I am challenging you to spend one hour outside every day in November. I’ve been thinking about the challenge since I set it and while I know some of you will find it super easy to tick off that daily hour, I think I might struggle – and I’m sure I’m not the only one. But that’s the point of a challenge, it’s something to commit to, something to work at, something to put effort in to. I’d love it if you’d join in – head over to my original #OneHourOutside post and state your intentions… I can’t wait to get started!
Feel free to share your own benefits of getting outside in the comments below.