Benefits of outdoor time

Grass blades

After what seems like an endless winter, spring is finally here. It’s time to shake off the winter blues and get outside. In case you need a little encouragement, here’s a list of scientifically-proven benefits of spending more time outdoors.

Nature reduces stress levels

guy outdoors on top of hay bail

In her book Positivity, Barbara Fredrickson states that environment plays a big role in triggering or soothing stresses. More green spaces in your life equates to the better you’ll feel. People who spend more time outdoors reported having better moods, expanded thinking and found more meaning in life, compared to those who stayed indoors. According to one study in Mind, 95% of people interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced.

It boosts the immune system

An immunologist in Tokyo conducted a study which found that a day-trip to a suburban park boosted the levels of white blood cells and anticancer proteins for at least seven days after the trip. In Japan, Forrest Therapy trails are visited by 2.5 to 5 million annually for their preventive medicinal purposes. People who go to these trails are going “forest bathing” which is, more or less, just hanging out in the woods.

Being outdoors increases creativity

woman painting outside using her creativity

A study by Stanford University concluded that when people spend time in nature they experience a sense that time is expanding instead of feeling pressured by time or the lack of it. Being outdoors also increases brain function by reducing fatigue and boosting energy levels. When your brain can restore itself, you can start thinking of new ideas and harnessing your highest analytical abilities. The Journal of Environmental Psychology says that spending just 20 minutes outside is all a person needs to refresh their brain, restore and start functioning again.

Boosts short-term memory

The University of Michigan gave two groups of students a memory test and assigned them to either take a walk through a garden or down a city street. After returning from their walks, the students took the memory test again. The students who walked through the garden improved their scores by 20 percent but the students who walked down the street had no significant improvements on the test. Natural environments help us focus while urban settings require more of our attention because of traffic, noise, lights and people.

Improves vision

kids outside playing

Myopia (nearsightedness) has increased in children in the recent years but researchers have found spending time outdoors combats that. Children who spend two to three hours in sunlight everyday are less likely to develop myopia. Eyes of children indoors have a harder time of focusing because of the dim lighting. Because of that, their eyes must work harder and change shape to see more clearly. The lighting outdoors keeps kid’s eyes from working harder than they need to.

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”” – Sylvia Plath

While author Sylvia Path was depressed much of her adult life, she found happiness in the outdoors. I hope that you, too, can find happiness in your outdoor adventures.

About the Author

Kalsey Stults is the Marketing Assistant at Peaks to Plains Design. She graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin with a degree in Communications and an English minor. Before moving to Billings she worked at the Dickinson Press in Dickinson, North Dakota where she honed her eye for visually appealing design and also the written word.