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Why You Should Prioritize Spending Time in Nature for Your Health

Health and Nature

When was the last time you spent a sunny day hiking a forested trail or bathing in the sun’s rays on the beach? If it’s been too long, don’t be surprised if you feel slightly under the weather. Copious scientific evidence suggests you should prioritize spending time in nature for your health.

Why? The reasons are many and multifaceted. As doctors and researchers learn more about what creates total health, they continually discover it is more holistic, with changes in one area affecting multiple others. This ripple effect can work for the positive, with changes in mood leading to physical improvements and vice versa.

As you’ll see, nature is the perfect medicine in many ways. Here’s a deeper look at why you should prioritize spending time in nature for your health.

1. It’s Good for Your Immunity

Human bodies thrive best in the natural world, not artificial environments. People with the most exposure to the outdoors often enjoy improved health. Studies show that newborns raised on farms have fewer incidents of allergies and asthma, as they have regular exposure to microorganisms in the soil.

They also breathe cleaner air, thanks to exposure to multiple plants. Plants act like vacuum cleaners for the atmosphere, taking in carbon dioxide and toxins and releasing fresh water vapor and oxygen. Immersing yourself in a natural setting filled with them is like a spa day for your lungs.

That’s not all plants do to boost your immunity. They also release chemicals called phytoncides for defense that strengthen your internal troops. Research on forest bathers or those who spend at least one night in the wild a month shows higher activity in vital immune system cells you use to fight germs.

Sunlight also prompts your body to produce natural vitamin D. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases and cancer.

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2. It Keeps You Physically Active

There’s an obesity epidemic in America. According to the CDC, more than 44% of adults aged 40-59 qualify as obese and more are overweight. These extra pounds strain organs and joints, increasing disease and chronic pain risk.

While diet plays a significant role in the epidemic, another factor is many Americans' sedentary lifestyles. People who work in offices seldom get enough daily physical activity to promote their health, and long schedules without breaks make it challenging for many to get to the gym.

However, simply being outdoors encourages physical movement. Consider these methods to get more outside exercise in your life this week and see their effect on how you feel:

  • Walk or bike: If possible, walk or bike to work or escort your children to school. Electric bikes are a blast and keep you from getting sweaty — they’re far cooler than climbing into a car in August. If the office is prohibitively far, use this method for short errands. You’ll also decrease your carbon footprint.
  • Putter in the garden: Even if you only have a small patio, a few container plants give you a reason to get moving outdoors.
  • Take your workout outdoors: Yoga is a whole new experience when you let the warm sunlight melt your muscles into ooey, gooey relaxed bliss. An open garage or covered patio is the perfect place for a weight set.

3. It’s a Necessary Break for Your Eyes

Many people who labor in offices spend countless hours daily on computers. Guess what? Doing so isn’t fabulous for your visual health. It can lead to strain that causes headaches and excess tiredness, prompting you to skip the gym after work. It can also result in the following issues:

  • Lack of focus flexibility: It gets harder to shift from seeing nearby objects to those farther away.
  • Nearsightedness: Studies suggest that children who spend more time indoors, presumably on screens, are more likely to develop nearsightedness.
  • Retinal damage: The blue light these devices emit can damage the retinal lining.

Experts recommend using the 20-20-20 rule when performing such tasks. It entails stopping every 20 minutes to gaze at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. You might also take at least one of your work breaks outside to submerge yourself in the natural world’s flowing curves instead of the harsh, even lines of the built environment.

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4. It’s a Boost for Your Mental Health

Perhaps the biggest reason to prioritize spending time in nature for your health is its effect on your psyche. Multiple studies show that doing so can ease stress and reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Spending time in nature also facilitates social connections. While you might pass people by in office environments, it’s more natural to greet those you run into on the trail. However, even solo hiking makes you feel connected with something larger than yourself, part of the wondrous and ongoing part of the visible creation surrounding you.

Why You Should Prioritize Spending Time in Nature for Your Health

If you want to improve your health, head outdoors. Prioritizing spending time in nature can go far toward improving your body and mind.

Consider the above reasons to get moving in mother nature today. Even a one-time outing brings a boost, and including more outdoor activities in your daily life can promote long-term improvements in how you feel.

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