“This is what you shall do. . . read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
― Walt Whitman
Being outdoors makes us feel alive, and closer to the wonders of the natural world. We know we feel better when we’ve spent a day in the park or climbing the nearest mountain, but why? If you need more excuses to be outside — here are 21 of them, and the scientific evidence that you really should be among the trees.
- You are exposed to more sun, and thus take in more Vitamin D through your skin. This has been proven to lessen depression, lower the risk for many cancers, prevent against diabetes, autoimmune disease, and even improves bone density, preventing osteoporosis.
- You’ll feel better than an entire quarter of the population that has been shown to be deficient in Vitamin D.
- Kids with ADHD do better. One study compared concentration between children with ADHD who played outside, versus those who played inside, after school and on weekends. Kids who spent time in green, outdoor spaces reported fewer symptoms of ADHD.
- Walks in nature are linked to enhanced mental health. It doesn’t matter if you are taking a break from your office or your own home, getting outside can lift your mood. A study from Glasgow University showed that people who walked, biked, or ran in nature had a lower risk of poor mental health.
- Being in nature gives your brain a break, and quiets over-stimulation. In a study conducted at the University of Michigan, participants were better able to focus after being outside in nature.
- Being indoors, it is very difficult to ground. The simple practice of lying on the earth with as few clothes as possible, or allowing your bare feet to touch the ground has tremendous health benefits. Also called, simply, earthing, this practice can reduce inflammation, increase mental health, relieve stress, increase blood flow, and even reduce cancer risk.
- People who spend time outside are more likely to get exercise, which has its own health benefits. While you could just sit on a park bench and still reap the tremendous benefits of being in nature, once you are outside, you are much more likely to want to walk, bike, run, or throw a Frisbee.
- Being outside can spur weight loss. Part of the reason people lose weight climbing mountains, it obvious – that climb burns some calories, but so does simply breathing in air at higher elevations. The higher heights can speed up your metabolism, while actually lessening hunger cravings.
- Wonder why great writers and artists always talk about taking a stroll outdoors? Apparently walking outdoors increases creativity. Research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology explains why Walt Whitman may have been such a creative genius – he spent most of his days outdoors.
- Going outside for just twenty minutes is better for perking you up than coffee.
- Strangely enough indoor air is often much more polluted than outdoor air. Getting some ‘fresh air’ is quite literal these days. It can mean inhaling fewer toxins which is good for your health.
- Many moons ago, humans spent most of their time outdoors. Returning to this practice puts us back in touch with the cycles of nature, the cycles of life and death, and even our own circadian rhythms. From the carbon cycle to the rain cycle, to geophysical cycles, just spending time where they are happening helps keep us from thinking that humans are the only important thing on this planet.
- Mother nature provides some of the best aromatherapy around. Being outdoors you can smell jasmine, pine, plumeria, lilacs, roses, and the list goes on. Any one of these smells is a known depression and anxiety buster.
- Being outside helps us to age more gracefully, according to research done in Jerusalem. Participants going out daily at age 70 reported significantly fewer new complaints at age 77 of musculoskeletal pain, sleep problems, urinary incontinence, and decline in activities of daily living (ADLs).
- Being among the trees you are supporting a decrease in national health care costs. They prevent $7 billion in health costs every year by filtering air pollution—not to mention their incredible psychological effects.
- Women with breast cancer can focus more on getting better, according to one medical study if they spend just two hours a week in natural environments, presumably because of stress mitigation.
- Tired? Stressed? A study conducted by the Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research found that spending just two nights in a forest lowers cortisol levels – a major marker for stress, and thus the impending sleepless night.
- Mother nature is fun. Sure, you could vacation on 5th avenue and blow a wad of cash on new shoes or a hand-tailored suit, but what about spending time in the Crystal Caves of Mexico, or the Stone Forest of China. There are places on this planet that would put anything with a monetary value to absolute shame
- Plants and flowers are known to have very high vibratory levels. These higher vibrations are vital to boosting human health and balancing our electro-magnetic frequencies.
- The world is full of medicinal plants. From the ‘weeds’ growing in our yards like dandelions, and goldenrod to common plants like aloe that heal bruises and burns, plants heal us. It is said that ancient Egyptians used plants as medicine as well as the Vedic societies, as evidenced in sciences like Ayurveda. Ancient Chinese Medicine is replete with the use of plants to cure every known disease. A simple stroll in nature can turn into a foraging trip for a home medicine cabinet. You can collect plant medicines for headaches, joint pain, and even colic. Stepping outside is like stepping into the ultimate natural pharmacy.
- In an article titled ‘Awesomeness is Good for You’ Gus Lubin points out a study presented in Psychological Science pointing to the benefits of ‘awe.’ What inspires awe? Nature. As Melanie Rudd of Stanford University states, “Awe expands people’s perception of time, enhances well-being, and causes people to behave altruistically and less materialistically.”
“I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” Henry David Thoreau
Christina Sarich is a writer, musician, yogi, and humanitarian with an expansive repertoire. Her thousands of articles can be found all over the Internet, and her insights also appear in magazines as diverse as Weston A. Price, Nexus, Atlantis Rising, and the Cuyamungue Institute, among others. She was recently a featured author in the Journal, “Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and Healing Arts,” and her commentary on healing, ascension, and human potential inform a large body of the alternative news lexicon. She has been invited to appear on numerous radio shows, including Health Conspiracy Radio, Dr. Gregory Smith’s Show, and dozens more. The second edition of her book, Pharma Sutra, is available now for purchase.
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