With the frigid temperatures (mostly) behind us, taking some of our daily routine outdoors is important. Whether it’s getting a good boost of Vitamin D or just taking in some fresh air, being outside feels good. But one activity you should definitely take outdoors is exercise.
While you may have to visit the gym for weights or rainy days, skip walking on a treadmill when you can. Research is painting a picture of the benefits to being and exercising outdoors.
Being in nature is, well, natural and our absence from it may be depressing. A study found that a 90 minute walk in nature decreased activity in areas of the brain associated with depression and mental illness. The same walk in an urban setting did not reduce this activity. Luckily we have some great parks and plenty of natural spaces around us in Southeast Kansas.
More than just boosting our mood, walks in the great outdoors are also associated with lower blood pressure and more cancer fighting cells. One study found 30 minutes in green space could reduce blood pressure in about 10% of people.
The other comes from Japan where they recommend “forest bathing.” Research suggests inhaling certain air-borne compounds emitted by plants, phytoncides, results in more and more active natural killer cells. These cells are a part of the immune system responsible for removing cancerous cells from our body. A study found that a weekend in the woods could increase natural killer cells by 50% and their activity by 56%. They even remained 23% higher a month later!
Getting started, outside
If you’re still not convinced some exercise outdoors is a good idea, then maybe this might help. A study found that those who exercised outside exercised more and were happy about it! They exercised about 30 minutes more per week and reported feeling better than those only active inside. Now, physical activity is still beneficial inside or outside, but that extra time and boost of motivation can help jump start your healthy habit.
So if you’re already exercising inside, try adding a day or two outdoors. If you don’t get regular exercise, this may be your opportunity to start. Check out our other post on how to make smart exercise goals. Be sure you talk to your doctor or chiropractor before starting any exercise routine.