When’s the last time you have enjoyed some fresh air? Getting outdoors has a host of health benefits and can be the secret (and free) way to improve and maintain your health. Studies have shown that taking even leisure walks outdoors can have memory-boosting effects. In fact, a recent University of Michigan study found that after taking a nature hike either on a trial or around an arboretum, participants scored significantly higher on a memory test.
But that isn’t the health boost that being among nature can have. Here are 3 other research-backed perks of getting outdoors as often as you can.
1. Being outdoors can lower your stress level.
Evolutionarily speaking, being outdoors is literally built into our DNA. This may be one underlying reason why being outside can influence how our body reacts to its surroundings and, more importantly, to stress. In one study, researchers discovered that when students camped outside in the forest for two nights, they had markedly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, when compared to students that stayed in the city during that time. In addition, when researchers compared the average heart rate of those who spent time in the forest to the heart rate of those in the city, nature enthusiasts had lower heart rates and reported reduced levels of daily stress.
2. Outdoor time reduces inflammation.
Inflammation is often associated with a host of chronic illnesses, ranging from depression, autoimmune disorders, even cancer. However, getting outdoors often can help to reduce inflammation. In fact, one study found that participants that spent regular time in nature, whether hiking or camping they had lower levels of inflammation than those who spent their leisure time in the city. And, these nature-related health benefits can extend well into old age. Because researchers concluded that elderly patients that spent time outside each day showed improvement in their inflammation levels and often had improved blood pressure readings.
3. Fresh air can wake you up – literally!
Mental fatigue can take a toll on your productivity, happiness, and overall health. Finding all-natural ways to get the boost of energy you need to sustain you through the day is key. And, being outdoors can do just that! When people were shown pictures of nature, in a recent study, their mental energy and clarity often rebounded and they reported being more energized and awake than when looking at city-related images.
There you have it! Getting outdoors, even just once a week can be the best way to keep your health in check. If you’re looking for a great place to get your nature fix, check out these local spots that are perfect for hiking, camping, or even enjoying a nice, relaxing stroll.
Big Creek Greenway in the Alpharetta and Johns Creek, Georgia areas
Beltline in the Decatur and Buckhead, Georgia areas
Abernathy Greenway in Sandy Springs, Georgia
Arthur Ravenel Bridge (and of course the beach!) in Charleston, South Carolina