There are lots of things people resolve to do better in the New Year, whether it’s eating healthier or getting more exercise. However, while these things are often short-term changes, one thing that is a good habit to learn is spending more time outside. Here are some reasons why spending time outdoors is good for your health, and why it’s a resolution that’s worth making.
It gets you away from screens
The average American spends 11 hours a day looking at a screen, whether it’s a computer, smartphone, tablet or TV. Perhaps the only time you have away from a screen is when you’re driving, cooking, or looking after children. This means most Americans spend the majority of their waking hours staring at one device or another, which is terrible for your memory, concentration and eyesight. Going outside for some fresh air means you get screen-free time and can simply enjoy being around nature and living in the moment.
You can work through stress
It’s easy to spend all day feeling stressed at work, only to come home and bring that stressed feeling with you, perhaps even mulling over the problems and arguments of the day again and again. There are many ways that walking relieves stress, so it’s not just something to do when you want to burn calories. If you’re not lucky enough to live near some big open spaces, then a stroll around the neighborhood will help. Bring the dog along, so they get some exercise.
It can help your eyesight
A study of children who had an outdoor lifestyle showed that they had lower rates of poor eyesight than kids who were indoors a lot. While being outdoors doesn’t miraculously help your eyesight get better, it can help slow down the process of aging that your eyes go through. In the summer months, try to get an hour outdoors each day, with the proper sun protection of course.
You may sleep better at night
If you’ve ever taken kids to the beach or for a long day outside, you’ll notice they are absolutely exhausted by the time they get to bed. It’s not just the additional walking, the effects of cool air can help you sleep, so even if you go out during the day and shut your window at night, you get the benefit of fresh air.
It’s a good way to get a bit more exercise
While you can spend time outdoors relaxing, perhaps enjoying the view from your patio, spending more time outside means you’re likely to get more active. If you have limited mobility, you could consider a mobility chair like the Zoomer Chair, which is ideal for those who don’t need a wheelchair but need some help getting around. Even if you only make it round the block once a day, you’ll soon find your endurance levels get higher and you start to want to do more.
Doctors recommend you take about 10,000 steps a day, and this is difficult to achieve at home, unless you have a treadmill. It’s much easier and more fun to try to reach this goal by walking around outside, perhaps with a goal of 3,000 steps a day at first, then building from there.
You can avoid vitamin D deficiencies
Vitamin D deficiency is common among those who don’t spend enough time in the sun. While it’s important to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays, not spending enough time outside means you can get a vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to a loss of bone density as you age, muscle weakness and much more. Make sure you spend time outdoors and look for sources of vitamin D in foods such as fatty fish, cheese and fortified products.
It can help you clear your head at work
Finding a certain project difficult or lacking inspiration? Take a step outside for a while. Getting away from your desk for a short break can help you be more productive, and if you step away from your work for a while, you may find it’s easier to tackle things when you get back. Sometimes, just taking a short walk can be all you need to get back on track, especially if you’ve been working long hours. Walking in the fresh air can be a good way of giving your brain a rest and reset.
Remember the thrill of being allowed to play outside when you were younger? Why should you let go of that when you get older? There are lots of fun activities to do outdoors, whether it’s simply hiking or playing sports, boating or gardening, this might be the year when you find a brand-new hobby that you love. All you need to do to get started is to step outside.