BRB, I’m off to climb a mountain.
I am not a nature girl. I love walking, and a good hike, but I am not naturally an outdoorsy person. I’m happy indoors where it’s warm and I don’t have to wear shoes.
The Swedes are the opposite. The Swedes are out in all kinds of weather. Come rain, come ice, come snow; they’re out enjoying it all. They are all-season people.
Turns out they might be onto something.
More and more research suggests that getting fresh air often is good for you. Here’s what they say:
It’ll boost your mood
“Walking is an inexpensive, low risk and accessible form of exercise and it turns out that combined with nature and group settings, it may be a very powerful, under-utilised stress buster.” – Sara Warber, M.D., associate professor of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School
A study conducted by the university looked at almost 2,000 participants from a Walking for Health program in England. They noticed lower depression, less perceived stress, and better mental health and wellbeing in people who participated in nature walks in groups. Not bad for a couple minutes spent outside!
You’ll heal faster
What if I told you that simply getting more sunlight could lead to you needing less pain medication? It’s true. One study exposed participants to 46% more sunlight after surgery, and found that they used 22% less pain medication than participants who hadn’t had the same exposure. Nuts but true!
There’s also some research that suggests getting outdoors stimulates anti-cancer proteins, and leads to lower cancer-related mortality rates; but it’s not all conclusive.
You’ll lose weight
Aside from the obvious side-effects of more movement, i.e. increased calorie-burn; there is some evidence that spending time at higher altitudes can speed up your metabolism, and lessen your appetite, for up to a month(!). Now there’s an incentive to go climb a mountain.
You’ll be more creative
Unsurprisingly, this newfound dependency on technology is damaging for our brains. Specifically, it reduces our cognitive resources and shortens our attention spans. Here’s the good news though, it turns out that spending time out in nature restores our cognitive functions! You probably think, like I did, that the improvement in cognitive function is marginal, right? Wrong! We’re talking about a 50% improvement! Supposedly the exposure to natural stimuli helps our minds to be more focused and introspective so that our imaginations can wander.
Convinced yet? Weight loss, reduced stress, more creativity, and faster healing. And all we need to do is get outside? We’re sold!
/Femi, The Girl Who Hates Working Out