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The Great Outdoors: Spending Time in Nature Benefits Your Body and Mind

Want to live a healthier life? Open your door, step outside, and take a deep breath of fresh air. That’s it! On average, Americans spend 90 percent of their time inside. However, research shows that being outside can have major health benefits. Here are three reasons you should try to spend more time in nature.

1. A Healthier Heart and Mind

Getting outside for 30 minutes or more each week could reduce your risk for high blood pressure, one study found. Green spaces such as parks, trails, and gardens can decrease levels of stress, encourage you to spend time with others outside, and facilitate physical activity. Together, these factors can help lower your blood pressure and boost your well-being.

2. Decreased Risk for Depression

In a study, one group of people took a walk in a grassy area with trees and shrubs. Another group took a walk along a busy street with traffic. Afterward, researchers found that those who walked in nature had less activity in a part of the brain linked with depression. One reason? Outdoor spaces may take your mind off negative thoughts that can make you feel down.

3. Better Weight Control

People who soak up more daylight, especially in the morning, have a lower body mass index than those who spend more time indoors, one study found. Sunlight may affect certain brain chemicals that play a role in metabolism and weight regulation. And if you exercise, consider taking your workouts outdoors. In another study, people were able to push themselves harder when they worked out outside even though they said their workout felt easier, overall.

Whether you sit on a bench, take a walk, or go for a run, making more time to be outside can have a big impact on your body and mind.

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Godsey, Cynthia, MSN, APRN, MSHE, FNP-BC
Online Medical Reviewer: Renee Watson, L., MSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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