A simple health tip with wonderful benefits is right outside your door
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report states that the average American spends 90% of their time indoors. Given that indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, this isn’t good for our health.
Since many of us work on our computers all day or work indoors in an office, classroom, healthcare facility, etc., it can be easy to fall into the habit of going from our home to our car to our workplace back to our car and home, perhaps with some stops in between and little or no time at all outside. We are mostly eating indoors, exercise indoors, engage in entertainment indoors and travel indoors, with barely any thought to how little time we spend outside.
Luckily, when the weather is nice, most of us feel more drawn to outdoor activities. However, in today’s world, our desire for comfort often overrules our body’s need for fresh air, sunshine and exposure to the natural elements.
We’ve grown so accustomed to air conditioned and heated buildings that, on days where the temperatures rise or fall to levels below what’s considered comfortable, we defer to staying indoors.
It’s easy to say spending time outside is good for our health. But that statement alone won’t usually motivate us to do it. A reminder of the health benefits might just motivate and inspire some of you to consider adding a little more outdoor time to your days.
Fresh air. This may sound obvious; however, in the EPA’s report mentioned earlier, there is an entire list of indoor pollutants that we’re exposed to daily. These include carbon monoxide, particulate matter, radon, pet dander, mold, pesticides, and volatile organic compounds, among others.
Vitamin D. According to Harvard Medical School, “Overall, research is showing that many vitamins, while necessary, don't have such great disease-fighting powers, but vitamin D may prove to be the exception. Epidemiologic studies are suggesting it may have protective effects against everything from osteoporosis to cancer to depression to heart attacks and stroke.”
Stress reduction. Studies have shown that spending time outside reduces stress and contributes to emotional well-being. Currently known as forest bathing, the calming effects of immersion in nature is becoming more widespread, in response to an ever more complex and fast-paced world.
Improve memory. A study at the University of Michigan showed that students’ memories improved after spending time near trees.
Boost energy. In an article published by the University of Rochester, several studies were cited that showed that spending time outside increased vitality and increased levels of energy.
And more. There are many other studies that connect spending time outdoors with better sleep, improved focus, faster recovery times from surgery, lowering blood pressure. I would venture to guess that it would also contribute positively to creative expression, problem-solving, relationships, etc.
Finally, being outside just feels good. Plus, the sheer beauty of nature can do wonders to lift the spirits. Best of all, it’s easy to do, affordable and there’s nothing to lose by trying it.
In addition, don’t forget you can include more nature in your home or work environment by opening your windows, bringing in house plants, adding a skylight or two, or creating some inviting outdoors spaces.
Rachel Carlson, author of “Silent Spring,” says it beautifully, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
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