Health Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors

Spending time outdoors can boost physical and mental health in many ways. You don’t have to spend hours at a time outside before those benefits kick in, either.

Spending at least 120 minutes in nature per week can significantly boost health and well-being. You can go for a 2-hour chunk all at once, or break it up into smaller daily segments — the benefits still hold.

Even without any greenery around, spending time in sunlight and fresh air may help you feel better in mind and body. Below are some of the significant benefits you may gain from being outside on a regular basis.

Main Take Away: Making time for the outdoors will help boost your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness!

Improved Breathing

Unless you have allergies to pollen, asthma, or other environmental sensitivities, spending time outdoors can lower your risk of respiratory problems.

Better Sleep

Your body typically follows the rhythm of the sun. You feel more awake during the day when there is sunlight and sleepier once the sun sets.

Exposing yourself to sunlight helps you sleep better by:

  • Making you feel more tired at night
  • Helping you fall asleep faster
  • Improving the quality of your sleep
  • Helping you feel more tired at night

Lower Depression Levels

Exposure to sunlight can often help decrease symptoms of depression. Spending time outdoors in the sun can lessen feelings of tiredness and boost your mood. Try getting some sun by eating lunch outside, reading a book, or sitting in the sun for short periods of time. Be sure to wear sunscreen and maybe a hat or visor to prevent sunburn.

Increased Motivation to Exercise

Going for a walk outdoors can increase your motivation to continue exercising in the future because it makes physical activity more interesting and enjoyable.

Here are some other benefits:

  • It is easier to socialize, because you can walk and talk with a family member or a friend
  • Walking outside feels easier and less strenuous than other forms of exercise
  • Any physical activity outdoors is good for you, such as gardening, berry picking, harvesting medicines, walking your dog, or even washing your vehicle.

Restores Mental Focus

Today’s world is full of flashing screens, buzzing phones and other distractions that may raise your stress levels without you even knowing it.

But in nature, there are soothing sights, sounds and smells that can restore your mental energy and improve your focus. Being in nature can make you feel more relaxed and thus better able to focus.  Take time to smell some wildflowers, listen to the birds sing or quietly observe a river or a lake. Taking a moment to pray and give thanks for all that you see can also making you feel better spiritually.

Boost Your Immune System

You are less likely to contract viruses and illnesses when you are outside, including Covid-19 because air circulation lessens the presence of viruses in the air. Spending time outside can also help your immune system function at its best. This is because exposure to micro-organisms found in nature can help your immune systems become stronger.

Improved Vision

Some research suggests that children who spend a lot of time outdoors are less likely to become nearsighted as adults.

Natural light offers a brighter and broader collection of wave lengths of light to see with. Being outdoors also allows your eyes practice looking at objects from different distances, which can also improve your vision.

Increased Emotional Wellness

Spending time outdoors can help relieve fear, anxiety, worry and feelings of sadness. It can also help promote feelings of peace and happiness.

And spending time outside at night can also make you feel more connected with yourself and your world.  Try sitting outside by a campfire, looking at the stars or the northern lights or maybe even some night fishing. Just don’t forget to being a warm sweater and some mosquito spray!