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16 Science-Backed Reasons to Go Outside Everyday

How much time did you spend outdoors this week? In our fast-paced world, where screens take up all our attention, it’s not surprising that we spend more time indoors than ever. While getting caught up in the daily grind is easy, stepping outside and spending time in nature cannot be overlooked.

Spending time outdoors is magical and offers more benefits than most people realize. The fresh air, the sound of birds, and the greenery lift the mood instantly, but the advantages go beyond just making us feel good. 

Many research studies show nature’s beneficial impact on our overall well-being. Yet, despite all the proof, many of us find it hard to step out because of busy schedules, lifestyle choices, or modern technology. 

But the question is, what exactly are we missing out on by staying indoors? These 16 science-backed reasons explain why you should go outside daily. 

1. Fulfill Your Daily Vitamin D Needs

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One of the most direct benefits of going outside into the daylight is that you naturally get vitamin D. Numerous studies highlight its role in strengthening our bones and immune systems and even protecting against depression. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked with osteoporosis, heart disease, and an increased risk of certain cancers. 

However, most of us are starved of vitamin D; according to data, 42% of adults in the US are deficient in sunshine vitamin. 

Soaking up the sun is the easiest and most optimal method to replenish vitamin D levels. Direct sunlight triggers the body’s synthesis of Vitamin D; hence, a study suggests getting sunlight for about 5 to 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.

Furthermore, the study highlighted that while sunscreen is essential for protecting against skin cancer, limited sun exposure (not more than 30 mins) without sunscreen provides the needed dose of Vitamin D without significantly increasing skin cancer risk. 

2. Staying in Nature Reduces Stress

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Spending time in nature has some fantastic benefits. Green surroundings can help reduce stress hormones like cortisol, giving us a natural way to unwind.

New research from Cornell University studied the effects of nature on college students. The study shows spending just 10 minutes in nature can boost your mood and reduce physical and mental stress. Another study published in Frontiers in Psychology reveals that spending at least 20 minutes in a natural environment is linked to the most significant reduction in cortisol levels (a stress hormone). 

Spending time in nature is the perfect way to destress yourself. Interestingly, the benefits slow down after this initial period, showing that more time doesn’t always mean more benefits. Thus, even a short daily walk in nature can boost our well-being.

3. It Enhances Creativity

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Spending time outside gets your creative juices flowing. Recent research shows that being in nature has a powerful impact on the brain. It sparks curiosity and helps you stay open to new ideas. 

Surrounding ourselves with nature gives our minds a break from life’s mundane tasks and stress. This mental break is super important because it helps us recharge and think more clearly. Plus, it boosts our problem-solving skills and lets us see things differently.

So, if you feel your mind is stuck and lacking innovation, consider strolling around the neighborhood for a mental breather. 

4. It Helps You See Better

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Believe it or not, being outdoors can reduce the risk of nearsightedness. Research found that children who spend more time outdoors in the sunlight are less likely to develop myopia. Natural light boosts dopamine production in the retina, preventing eye elongation that causes nearsightedness.

Moreover, getting outdoors lets you see things from various distances and angles, exercising your eye muscles and helping you focus better at different lengths. 

Conversely, spending too much time indoors, especially in front of screens, can strain our eyes more and increase our chances of developing vision problems. 

5. It Boosts the Immune System

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Being outdoors exposes you to different bacteria, plants, and stuff that can boost your immune system and help you fight sickness. 

Nature’s primary way of helping our immune system is by boosting white blood cell production, especially natural killer (NK) cells. These cells are crucial in combating infections and preventing cancer. 

Research in Japan found that practicing Shinrin-Yoku, known as forest bathing, can increase NK cells through regular forest walks. The effects last for at least seven days and sometimes over a month. 

Additionally, when your vitamin D needs are being fulfilled, when you’re getting fresh air, and when you are stress-free, your immunity will work at its fullest.

6. Promotes Better Sleep

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On average, we need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep. To get quality sleep, it is essential to go outside daily; it improves our sleep and wake cycle. Natural light signals our body to understand when it’s time to sleep and when it’s not.

The research found that spending less time outside is linked to trouble sleeping regularly, sleeping too little, staying up late, feeling less optimistic and happy, and having worse health overall in the general population. Additionally, going outside reduces stress, making it easier to fall asleep when you’re less stressed at night. 

7. Improves Focus and Reduces Symptoms of ADHD

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When we spend too much attention on tasks involving problem-solving and extra concentration, our mind causes attention fatigue, making us feel exhausted and lose focus. Conversely, spending time in nature relaxes the brain and promotes cognitive abilities, 

Focusing on the tasks at hand is more challenging for kids and adults dealing with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Yet, research shows that being in natural surroundings can help calm those with ADHD, boosting focus and easing symptoms.

One study revealed that children with ADHD showed reduced symptoms of inattention after spending just 20 minutes walking in a park, compared to walking in an urban environment. 

8. Lowers Blood Pressure

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A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association showed that Sunlight exposure might help lower high blood pressure. Thus, sunlight isn’t just good for making vitamin D—it can also help reduce your blood pressure! When sunlight touches your skin, it makes a substance called nitric oxide, which makes your blood vessels wider, helping to lower your blood pressure. 

Keeping your blood pressure regular is crucial because it lowers your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. 

9. It Uplifts Your Mood

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Human beings get bored quickly. We feel dull and bored when stuck inside, but our mood begins to lift as soon as we step outside. 

This happens because nature helps lower stress hormones and makes us happier and calmer. Walking in the morning or evening is a good idea if you can. Even just 20 minutes outside daily can boost your mood and help you feel more relaxed.

Being in sunlight is believed to make the brain release a serotonin hormone. Serotonin helps improve mood and makes a person feel calm and focused. According to research, the brain makes more serotonin when there’s lots of bright sunlight around, and this process happens faster when the sunlight becomes more colorful. 

10. Improves Your Short-term Memory 

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When exposed to natural surroundings like trees, flowers, and fresh air, we experience a calming effect on our minds. This makes it easier for us to focus and remember things in the short term, like names and where we left our keys, and concentrate on class.  

On the other hand, when we stay indoors or surrounded by lots of noise and distractions, it’s harder for our brains to concentrate and remember things we just learned. A study suggests that walking in nature can improve memory by 20%– even looking at a picture of natural scenery has the same effect.

Spending time in nature gives our brains a break from daily hustle and bustle. This relaxation helps our brains function better, making it easier for us to remember things we’ve just learned or experienced.

11. It Makes Exercise More Enjoyable

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The benefits of exercising outdoors are great. Compared to indoor gym exercises (that sometimes feel monotonous and boring), outdoor activities like hiking, running, or biking may feel less like work and more like play.

Research shows that those who exercise outdoors are more motivated to continue their physical activity over time. This can lead to improved fitness levels and a greater sense of accomplishment. Moreover, exercising outdoors is excellent for your mental health, too. Physical activities performed under the open sky have been linked to lower levels of depression and anxiety. 

Additionally, outdoor group activities improve your social life and your emotional well-being.

12. It Improves Respiratory Conditions 

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Venturing outdoors, especially in green spaces with many trees and plants, can help you breathe better. The air out there is fresh and full of oxygen compared to the indoor air or urbanized areas packed with pollution. 

Trees and plants are natural air purifiers, inhaling carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen to make the air cleaner for us to breathe.  This natural cycle helps our lungs with better air and keeps us healthier by filtering out harmful stuff. Breathing in this clean air can ease asthma symptoms and improve lung function.

A study back in 2016 examined how having more greenery around can affect mortality. They tracked 108,630 women for 8 years. It turns out that people living in the greenest areas were 34% less likely to die from respiratory issues than those surrounded by less greenery.

13. Sunlight Can Improve Skin Conditions

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Getting some sunlight can actually do wonders for your skin. Apart from helping your skin make vitamin D, which is crucial for healthy skin and controlling inflammation, some studies even say that sunlight helps relieve psoriasis, eczema, jaundice, and acne. 

However, it’s essential to find a balance between sun exposure and avoiding the harmful effects of UV radiation, like early aging and a higher chance of skin cancer.

14. It Helps with Depression

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The antidepressant effects of spending time outdoors are becoming increasingly recognized by mental health experts and researchers. A study by Stanford University discovered that a 90-minute walk in nature can reduce activity in a brain area that is associated with depression.

The antidepressant effects are due to physical activity, exposure to natural light, and the calm of natural environments. Physical activity releases endorphins, the happy hormones that uplift your mood instantly. Additionally, sunlight exposure releases serotonin, a hormone that makes you feel calm and focused. In contrast, reduced sunlight has been linked to a drop in serotonin levels, which can lead to conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Thus, spending time outdoors, especially on sunny days, can lessen the risks of SAD and improve overall mental wellness.

15. It Helps You Appreciate the Environment Even More

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Spending time in the great outdoors allows you to have a deep appreciation for the environment. According to a recent study, it boosts your awareness of environmental issues and helps you adopt eco-friendly behaviors in your daily routine.

When we are in nature, we realize how fragile it is and how essential it is to protect it. This increased awareness about the environment encourages sustainable living and supports policies to reduce pollution. For example, noticing the difference in air quality between cities and nature could motivate people to support clean air efforts.

16. Outdoors Strengthen Grounding and Mindfulness

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“Grounding” means getting in touch with the Earth’s electrons by going barefoot or lying down. It helps transfer antioxidants to your body, reducing inflammation, pain, and stress while enhancing sleep and mood. 

Mindfulness means focusing on the present moment, especially in nature, to strengthen your connection with the environment and enhance your mood. It leads to a calm and clear mind. Combining grounding and mindfulness in nature can be powerful tools for boosting physical and mental well-being.

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