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The Benefits Of Getting Outside: Part 1

Posted by Dr. Donna Restivo on Apr 30, 2019 3:30:00 PM

In Health Tips, mental health

Spring is here and while we may not have seen a steady stream of sunlight just yet, it’s right around the corner. The April showers are coming to an end, which makes now the perfect time to start planning your outdoor adventures. While you were cooped up indoors all winter long, there are a lot of benefits that you were missing out on. Here are a few perks that go along with getting outdoors.

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Brain benefits. Just like every other part of your body, your brain needs a break. Most days, our minds are being stimulated in a variety of ways, and they seldom get the rest they need, with the exception of our nighttime slumber. Your brain is continuously filtering, processing, and responding to stimulation, giving it a full-time job with limited rest. The good news is that you have everything that you need to restore the inner-workings of your mind, and it simply involves stepping outdoors. When you allow yourself some time in nature, genetic programming takes over and opens your mind up with more space. And believe it or not, nature is known to trigger the portion of the brain that is responsible for love and empathy, so you end up becoming a nicer person on the inside while you rejuvenate your mind outside. 

Lowers anxiety and depression. You often hear about people escaping to a log cabin in the middle of nowhere, to get away from it all. There is good reason for this, as time spent in nature is proven to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. One study found that those who spent 90 minutes walking in a natural setting versus those who spent 90 minutes walking in an urban setting, had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is typically active during meditation and is defined as the repetitive thoughts that play a continuous loop on negative emotions. Some scientists believe that the calming nature sounds and silence, naturally lower our levels of the stress hormone cortisol, ultimately calming the body’s fight-or-flight response. Those who live in wooded areas, surrounded by nature, are found to be better at coping with stress and the demands that life throws at us. 

Better sleep. When we step outside for a little bit each day, the circadian rhythms are naturally regulated, allowing for an improved ability to fall and stay asleep. In turn, we have better brain health and more daily productivity. 

 

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