David Shapiro on The Physical and Mental Benefits of Outdoor Recreation

A great way to reduce the stress you have from your day-to-day is to head outside!

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Outdoor recreation provides people with a variety of mental and physical benefits. Here are some of the most significant mental and physical advantages to spending time outdoors. 

Mental Benefits

If you are struggling with a mental illness, spending time outdoors will likely reduce your symptoms. Exercise and time spent outdoors have both separately been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. If you are prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the winter, for example, getting outside can elevate your mood and make your symptoms more bearable, even when the weather is gloomy. Endorphins can also raise your mood, so combine your time outdoors with exercise to double the benefits. 

Time spent in nature can also change your perspective and help you to get your mind off your problems. As you interact with the natural world, you’ll be more prone to realize what’s most important in life and less likely to stress about the little things. As a result, you’ll be happier and more compassionate. 

Physical Benefits

Science has shown that there are numerous physical benefits of outdoor recreation. Spending time outdoors increases your energy, reduces blood pressure, and improves your focus. It can also help you to sleep better and feel more rested. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, try getting outside first thing in the morning every day, as that has been shown to be the most beneficial.

Sunlight provides you with Vitamin D, which is essential for your immune system, as well as your bones and blood cells. Our immune systems also benefit from phytoncides, which are chemicals produced by plants. Sunlight also helps to mitigate pain. In fact, one study showed that surgery patients who were exposed to sunlight took less pain medication than surgery patients who were not exposed to sunlight. 

Get Outside!

To enjoy the many benefits of outdoor recreation, spend at least two hours outside every week. That’s approximately 17 minutes each day, so regardless of how busy you are, you can make the time. Find an activity you enjoy, such as running, skiing, hiking, or biking. Or, if you prefer, you can always just go for a walk. 

No matter what you choose to do, make time outdoors a part of your routine starting today!

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