Top 7 Health Benefits of Being Outside

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There are plenty of health benefits of being outside! Capture these benefits in as little as 20 minutes per day. 

Whenever I would go on a hike, or spend a weekend camping, I always felt far better than when I started off the excursion. I never bothered to look into it and substantiate why I felt that way.

One night by a campfire I made a note that when I got home, I would dig deeper into the science behind it all. Turns out there are a ton of health benefits of being outdoors, but these 7 serve as the core benefits.

Table of Contents

I tried to link to every study that I had found in my research so you could investigate further if you so chose. Let’s dig into the top 7 health benefits of being outside!

Boosts Your Subjective Well-Being (SWB)

When I learned about the term subjective well-being, I needed to do some investigation. I knew that after spending time outside I felt better, but never knew what to call that phenomenon. 

Turns out that the proper term is subjective well-being. It refers to how people experience and understand their lives. 

So how much time do you need to spend outdoors to experience increased SWB?

Turns out, according to one study that it’s only 20 minutes in a park or green space. Based on the study’s results, those 20 minutes did not have to be active minutes. Participants of the study felt an increase in SWB even if all they did was sit down on a park bench for the allotted time.

Natural scents like grass, pine, and rose have a calming effect on our bodies and minds.
This is the result of natural aromatherapy processes.

Time Outdoors Will Increase Your Happiness

“Forest bathing” is a term that has become more popular in the United States. It means spending time in nature amongst the trees. While walking through wooded areas, be calm, observant, and engaged in your surroundings. Try to practice deep meditative breathing while walking.

Studies have shown that forest bathing results in a better emotional state.

I live in an urban location close to a downtown core and forests are not immediately accessible. 

I try to leave the city to bring my dog for a hiking adventure or set out for a weekend of camping with my family. 

If you have no access to a nearby forest, make time to get out of the city. Experiencing the health benefits of being outside is worth the time commitment.

Natural Relief of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Being in nature has been shown to reduce the levels of cortisol in your body. 

Cortisol is a stress hormone in our body necessary for mental and physical health. Elevated levels of the stress hormone can lead to a myriad of health issues. 

Cortisol can lead to sleep disorders, memory problems, depression, anxiety, and more.

Being Outdoors Will Help Burn More Calories

Finding a nice park bench and sitting down for 20 minutes will increase your SWB. 

Turn that time into active minutes, and you will burn more calories than if you were to exercise indoors. A few things come into play here. 

While outdoors, your body is working hard balancing CO2 levels and consuming oxygen. In doing so, it expends more energy which leads to increased calorie burning.

Your body is a regulating machine. While exercising outdoors, your body is adapting to external variables. Things like terrain level, incline, and declines all contribute to burning more energy.

Experience a Boost in Vitamin D

An article in Medical News Today stated that half of Americans are Vitamin D deficient. Low levels of Vit. D in your body can lead to health risks like depression, osteoporosis, and even cancer.

For best results, get outside around noon around when the UV rays are their strongest. While UV rays are a great source of Vitamin D, always make sure to wear sunscreen to protect your skin.

Give Your Immune System a Boost

There are health benefits of being outdoors that are very valuable, but not always as evident. Science suggests spending time outdoors can reduce the risks of diseases and ailments.

I found this research article that presented evidence that nature can help ward off:

  • ADHD
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease

Plants produce phytoncides, which are airborne chemicals that increase white blood cell levels. These white blood cells help our bodies to fight off infections and diseases.

If you are prone to illnesses, you will benefit from getting outdoors. Commitment to your health is important for a long and fulfilled life.

Boost Your Social Interactions, And Live Longer

Generate feelings of well-being by surrounding yourself with great people. An active social life has been proven to boost brain health, and fend off issues like dementia. In my opinion, this section is one of the best health benefits of being outside.

When I go camping with my family, it is often surrounded by some of the best people I have had in my life. These people include my best friend and his family. Watching our enjoying everything that nature has to offer is a blessing. We wouldn’t trade for the world.

Being in nature allows us to disconnect from our phones and push back societal pressure. This disconnect allows us to be more connected to those around us. In doing so, we often remember what truly matters in our lives.

Spending time by a campfire is a great way to bond with those around you.

How Much Time Should I Spend Outdoors Each Week?

According to health experts on Nature.com, getting at least 120 minutes per week is the goal. To experience the health benefits of being outside, you’ll want to carve out about 20 minutes per day.

It is absolutely acceptable to spend this time sitting on a park bench or walking in a park. The more that you can enjoy the time spent outdoors, the more likely you are to continue doing it. There is no need to force yourself to do something you don’t love for the sake of being outside.

Some Ideas To Get Your Outdoors

Sitting and walking are great ways to capture the health benefits of being outside. If you are looking to add new ways to get outdoors, here are some of my personal favorites!

Paddle

Getting out on the water for an afternoon of paddleboarding is a favorite of mine. I live about a half-mile from a calm lake. When our kids are at their grandparents, my wife and I will walk with our paddleboards down to the water. Spending time in nature with the sun beaming down is an excellent afternoon.

When deciding what would be best for us, we researched the pros and cons of hard and inflatable boards. 

Portability was a big factor for us, so we decided to buy inflatable paddleboards. You can see the results of my research by clicking here to see the article.

Hiking

By getting off the beaten path, hiking allows you to fully immerse yourself in nature. A full immersion in nature delivers all of the health benefits of being outside.

Regardless of the length of your hike, you are almost guaranteed to feel an increase in well-being. Hiking does require some preparation and longer trips may need more specialized equipment.

Wondering where to start? Be sure to check out our beginner’s guide to hiking here.

Camping

With so many degrees of “camping” available, you’ll be able to find what works for you, and your family or friends. 

Glamping is popular amongst beginners and seasoned campers alike. Glamping is most suited for people who want to be in nature without giving up the creature’s comforts. Glampers may choose to camp in a recreational vehicle (RV), or in tents purchased with luxury in mind. 

You can instead choose to immerse in nature and take nothing more than what is essential!

Unsure of what to pack for an upcoming camping trip? Check out our camping essentials checklist article in our Tips and Guides section!

Get Up and Get Out

The health benefits of being outside are plentiful. You can reap these rewards in as little as 20 minutes each day. Simple as that.

Whether you choose to sit at a bench in a green park, or hit the trails for an extended hike, there is something for all activity levels. In today’s society far too many people opt to make excuses for why they can’t spend adequate time outsides.

Schedule in your 20 minutes outdoors around work breaks, child care requirements, etc. By making this time outdoors a habit, you will ensure you capture all of the health benefits of being outside!

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AUTHOR

Whether travelling with the family in his RV, exploring the backcountry, or a day by the beach with the family, Mike has a passion for all things outdoors. In summer you will find him exploring the wilds near the camp, and in winter, Mike loves getting on his freestyle snowboard and hitting the slopes.