The Positive Health Benefits of Getting Outside was first published in February 2021 and updated in February 2022.
The positive health benefits of getting outside are huge. Even though the UK is slowly starting to embrace a new normal, there’s still an air of uncertainty. Our mental and physical health should remain a priority, and self-care practices developed during the pandemic, need to continue.
The last 2-years have been difficult for everyone, and if I had to describe them in 3-words, I’d choose, challenging, overwhelming, and emotional. Not only have we had the pandemic to contend with, but we’ve all had our own personal curveballs to navigate as well. Some people are struggling with loss and grief, adjusting to life without a loved one. While others are dealing with the breakdown of a relationship or losing their job. And many people have been isolated, unable to access the company or support they would usually have from friends or family.
The Positive Health Benefits of Getting Outside
Although it might feel hard, there are things we can do to help look after ourselves and our mental health. One of those things, is spending time outdoors. If this is something you can do, the health benefits of getting outside can be really positive and beneficial for your mental and physical well-being.
With restrictions no longer in place, it’s time to take advantage of the lighter mornings, and crisp February air. Whether you choose an early morning run before work, or a refreshing lunchtime walk, make the most of your time outside. Immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing and reap the positive benefits of being outdoors.
I’m an early to bed, early to rise kinda girl, hitting the pavement for a run while most people are still snoozing! I always return from my morning run feeling refreshed and energised, ready to tackle my day.
The positive health benefits of getting outside include:
- Reducing stress levels
- Strengthening our immune system
- Improving mental performance and helping us to gain clarity
- Helping to reduce blood pressure
- Increasing happiness
- Encouraging creativity
- Helping us to deal with the challenges of everyday life
- Improving our physical health and mental health
- Calming our mind and improving our emotional well-being
- Getting natural Vitamin D from sunlight
- Helping with mild to moderate depression
- Natural sunlight can help with seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- It can help improve sleep
- It can help boost self-esteem and lessen anxiety
Vitamin D – known as the sunshine vitamin, is produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It helps the body absorb calcium and is important for brain development. Research shows it can also help regulate moods, and low levels of vitamin D can be linked to depression. So, during the winter months, it’s especially important to get outside in daylight hours, some people might also benefit from a supplement. Getting natural sunlight during the winter can also help with SAD.
Walk, Run, or do Some Gardening
You don’t need to walk miles to gain the mental health benefits either, spending as little as 5-minutes outside can help you to feel better about yourself. You could even do some gardening if you prefer, as this also promotes good mental health. We had a moderately successful vegetable patch last year, so we’ll be getting stuck into that again.
If you’re a runner like me, it’s the time of year to start planning events for the upcoming months. Last year I ran the Lytham Windmill 10k, which I really enjoyed. I hadn’t entered anything for several years due to anxiety, but it spurred me on to enter more races this year. Being outside, the positive energy of the event, and the camaraderie between other runners is an instant mood booster. I’ve got my eye on some half-marathons!
As you can see, the health benefits of getting outside are huge, and can have a really positive impact on our mental health and well-being. For more ideas on creating self-care routines, you can read my post What Does Self-Care Mean to You?
Are you doing any outdoor exercise at the moment? Are you training for anything? I’d love to hear in the comments below.