According to a study by the EPA, the average American spends 87% of their life indoors, and another 6% in their car. Sadly, that works out to only about half of one day per week spent outside! This is not only unhealthy for us physically, but also for the mind and soul. Indoor air is notoriously more polluted than fresh air, and germs and viruses are spread more easily indoors than outside. We all know intuitively that spending time outside is good for us, and there is plenty of science to back that up. Here are just a few of the benefits of time spent in the great outdoors.
Boost Vitamin D – Although too much sun is definitely bad for your skin, research has shown that much of the American public is actually Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is important in fighting infections like colds and the flu, as well as chronic diseases like Type 1 diabetes and osteoporosis. As little as 10 minutes of sun per day can make a difference in bringing your Vitamin D levels up to appropriate levels.
Improve Creativity – A Stanford University study showed that while the simple act of walking boosted creativity levels, walking outside provided the largest improvement in creative thinking. Sitting at your computer for hours on end can actually deter creative thinking, but a short walk in nature can reverse those effects and start the creative juices flowing again.
Change Your Mood for the Better – Researchers have found that subjects in natural surroundings exhibit measurable decreases in stress markers like heart rate and cortisol levels, stating that “stressful states can be relieved by forest therapy.” It is also thought that SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is the result of winter’s lower levels of natural light, as well as the fact that most of us tend to spend even more time indoors when the temperatures are low. A brisk walk on a cold or snowy day can work wonders toward improving your mood, even if it’s cold out!
Unplug the Electronics – One of the biggest stressors of modern life is that feeling that we must be constantly connected, responding to emails, texts, and calls immediately. In fact, a study out of the University of California, Irvine found that individuals with constant access to email had higher heart rates than those who without such access. Spending time in nature forces us to unplug, even if only for a short while, tempering the ill effects of the constant stream of communication.
At The Timbers at Edgemont Highlands, we are proud to provide our residents an outdoor lifestyle, with river access, community gardens, and an extensive trail system. Visit us online today for more information!