I realize it is hot outside and most of us are looking forward to cooler weather. For me, no matter what the weather is, I have difficulty spending too much time cooped up indoors. Here are some reasons all of us need to spend more time outside.
A walk outside can boost creativity and concentration. When I am walking, hiking, or just pulling weeds, I find I do a lot of my best thinking. Studies show that a stroll outside can actually improve brain function and mental focus. A study by psychologists from the University of Utah and University of Kansas found that backpackers scored 50 percent higher on creativity tests after spending just four full days in nature without any electronics. Children with ADHD are likely to score higher on concentration tests after time outdoors.
Going outside can improve your mood. Both cold winter and hot summer days that keep me indoors can result in that “blue funk.” SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is the name of a reoccurring depression that has symptoms of anxiety, exhaustion and sadness as a result of shorter winter days. One treatment for SAD, according to the Mayo Clinic, is to spend more time outside, even when it is cold and cloudy.
More time outdoors results in the production of more Vitamin D. The ultraviolet B (UVB) energy from natural sunlight causes a chemical reaction in our body that forms Vitamin D from a chemical precursor. Vitamin D helps ward off heart attacks, and may even improve various conditions, including osteoporosis and some types of cancer. Although we can obtain Vitamin D from foods like salmon and cheese, we get 80 to 90 percent of it from the sun. But remember – a little sun goes a long way; use sunscreen if you are going to be outsidefor more than a few minutes.
Nature is healing. Natural light may hold healing powers, according to a study from the University of Pittsburgh. Researchers found that spinal surgery patients saw lower levels of both Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment. pain and stress after they were exposed to more natural sunlight. In fact, patients exposed to 46
percent more sunshine took 22 percent less pain medication per hour.
Another study, suggests that getting outside remains just as important as we age. Seventy-yearolds who spent time outdoors daily reported fewer bouts of pain, and had less trouble sleeping. They also seemed to show less of a decline in day-to-day activities. In other words, the outdoors may help us stay healthy later in life.
If you have questions about Vitamin D and your health, talk to your health care provider. If you have been diagnosed with low Vitamin D levels, ask your doctor if he/she recommends more time outdoors.
By: Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.