Depending on where you live and what you like to do, it may be entirely possible to go a very long without spending time in nature. Statistics show, however, that persons who spend little to no time in nature have higher levels of stress and are not as happy or healthy as those who get out into the fresh air frequently.
I am very blessed to be living in one of the least disturbed areas in our country with so much wide open space, forests, and beautiful mountains that it would make your head spin. I chose to move to the mountains of New Mexico/Arizona three years ago and I am so happy to call this wild wonderland home. We are surrounded by millions of acres of forest land full of elk, deer, bear, mountain lions, birds, flowers, and trees. I spend every opportunity I can out exploring this beautiful country. For me, being out in nature is an integral part of living a healthy life. In short, it keeps me sane and fit!
Here are five scientifically-backed reasons how spending even a little time in nature will help improve your overall health and well being:
Get some vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential to excellent health. Spending time outdoors helps boost your body’s supply for this valuable vitamin. Vitamin D helps promote healthy bones and teeth and reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other diseases. Also, vitamin D also improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels.
Downtime for your brain: We all need a little downtime and getting outdoors helps your brain to unwind. If you are busy, like me, the wires up there can get crossed, and you might start to feel anxious and unorganized. There is nothing like a little hike, a camping trip or even just a walk through the woods to recenter your mind. Research shows that downtime is essential to healthy brain function.
Increase in oxygen: We need adequate oxygen in the brain to regulate levels of serotonin. If you have too much serotonin, you can become anxious and irritable, too little and you might become depressed. Just breathing in the fresh air can help you have a sunnier disposition. Also, the fresh air found in nature is rich in negative ions. Research has found that the Los Angeles freeway has a negative ion count below 100 per cubic centimeter while the area surrounding a waterfall or a lake has a negative ion count of 10,000 per cubic centimeter. Wow… what a way to boost a mood. Air that is negatively ionized promotes alpha brain waves and increases brain amplitude. This causes a clear and calming impact.
A boost of endorphins: Spending time outdoors, hiking, biking, swimming or doing any other kind of physical activity increases the brain’s “feel -good” neurotransmitters and creates what is also known as a “runner’s high.” You don’t have to move much – just a brisk walk or a bike ride will do the trick. The key here is consistency – getting out daily is best but at least twice a week will do wonders for how you feel.
Dirt is good for you: Research done shows that playing in the dirt can be good for you. Scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder found that Mycobacterium vaccine, a very harmless bacteria found in soil, functions as a natural antidepressant. Also, the bacteria also decreases inflammation and boosts your immune system.
What do you say, are you ready for some fresh air?