Get outside! Health benefits of spending time outdoors
At ApexHealth, we want to encourage our members and those in the communities we serve to “Live Life Boldly.” This spring and summer – get outside! There are many physical and mental health benefits to spending time outdoors. Let’s explore what these are and some ideas on how you can safely spend time outside.
Physical health benefits of spending time outdoors
Spending time outside is great for your physical health! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), “being outside in green spaces supports an active and healthy lifestyle, which has shown to increase life expectancy, improve sleep quality and reduce cancer risk.” Spending time outside can be relaxing which can lead to reduced stress levels, cortisol levels, muscle tension and heart rates all risk factors for heart disease.
In addition, being outside in the sunshine allows your body to make vitamin D, which Harvard Health says may have protective effects against everything from osteoporosis to cancer to depression to heart attacks and stroke.
Mental health benefits of spending time outdoors
There are also mental health benefits to spending time outside, including a lower risk of depression and faster psychological stress recovery, says the USDA. Spending time outside also allows for more social connection – getting together with family, friends and your community outdoors – all things that can benefit your mental health.
Five ideas for spending more time outside
There are many activities and ways to spend time outside. Here are a few suggestions:
Gardening is a major mood-boosting activity, and it provides a moderate level of physical activity. You can garden anywhere – in your yard or on your balcony, porch or window ledge. Visit a local nursery to get ideas for the best plants for your space.
Walking is a great way to be more active. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes each week 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking or 75 minutes each week of vigorous-intensity activity such as hiking, jogging, or running for adults ages 65 and older. Take a walk or jog around your neighborhood or find a great, moderate day hike nearby.
Prepare a healthy meal and eat outside with your spouse, friends or family. It’s a great way to soak up the sun, relax, eat and socialize.
Capturing life’s moments and your favorite places around you is easy to do – whether you own a camera or if you just use your smartphone. Photography is a great activity to try and get better with over time, and you can share your photos online with family and friends.
Studies show the many benefits of reading including preventing cognitive decline, reducing stress and improved brain health, memory and concentration. And reading doesn’t have to be just an indoor activity. Grab a blanket or find a bench and enjoy a book outside.
Also – don’t forget to stay socially connected! Any of these outdoor activities can be done with a friend or family member.
Don’t forget to protect your skin!
There are many health benefits to spending time outdoors, but as you are outside living life boldly, don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun! According to the CDC, having little or no sun exposure may put you at risk for low levels of vitamin D, but too much exposure can increase the risk of skin cancers and eye disease. You can protect yourself by:
- Staying in the shade
- Wearing protective clothing
- Applying and re-applying a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher
Think about ways that you can spend more time outside this spring and summer! Just remember to stay safe in the sun and ask your doctor or health care provider before trying out new types of physical activities. If you have any questions about the information presented in this blog post, we’re always here to help! Give ApexHealth a call at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711) to speak with an ApexAssistant. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30 and seven days a week 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31.