Have you ever felt a little run down from the stress of your daily life? Whether it's dealing with a health issue or the needs of your family, everyone can feel overwhelmed from time to time. We all deal with stress and other poor feelings differently, but one method is commonly overlooked despite scientific evidence to back it up. Believe it or not, spending time in nature can actually nurture your body and make you feel better in a number of ways, both physically and mentally.
Health benefits of being outdoors
If you enjoying hiking, running or walking through a wooded area near your home, then you already know that being outdoors can make you feel good by improving your mood. But beyond putting a smile on your face, being outside has some serious health perks. Here are some of the best benefits of spending time in nature:
- Vitamin D: When you're outside under the sun, your Vitamin D levels rise from sunlight hitting your skin. Vitamin D is important to fight off conditions such as osteoporosis, cancer, heart attacks and depression, according to Harvard Medical School. Most people don't get enough of this vitamin from natural sun exposure on skin. As many as three-quarters of all U.S. teens and adults are vitamin D deficient from spending too much time indoors. While the symptoms of this deficiency may vary, seniors may need to spend more time outdoors to replenish their exposure to sunlight compared younger people, as skin can become thinner with age.
- Happiness: Being exposed to light – natural and artificial – has been shown to improve happiness levels and mood. In general, there is more light outdoors than inside, which is why being indoors too much can cause physical and mental health issues. Furthermore, being outside in the sunlight and doing something active can replace inactivity indoors and provide even more health benefits.
- Exercise: Physical activity doesn't have to be something you dread. Instead of going to a crowded gym or working out in your home, you can get your exercise by spending time in nature. Seek out hiking areas near your home or easy walking paths that will enable you to get the recommended weekly amount of exercise for seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors need two hours and 30 minutes each week of cardiovascular exercise.
- Stress: Spending time in forested areas has been shown to reduce stress levels, anger and aggression. After a stressful situation, people tend to recover better when in a natural environment compared to an urban setting.
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