Summer is in full swing and with that comes warm weather, sunny days, and more activities that get us outside! Did you know that spending time outside can benefit your physical and mental health? We sat down with Nancy Plemmons, FNP-C and Everside Health Regional Medical Director to learn more about what those benefits are, along with some of her favorite summer activities!
1. More exercise
While being outside is not a guarantee of being active, spending time outdoors is associated with more activity than indoor living. This is especially true or children; studies have shown kids double their activity when they’re outside versus inside. Exercise is also a great way to build muscle and improve mental health. And if you needed any more reasons to get active outside, exercise can also protect against many types of cancers, including cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, kidney, and stomach.*
2. The body may heal faster
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh reported that spinal surgery patients experienced less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications during their recoveries if they were exposed to natural light.
Don’t forget your sunscreen and try and incorporate a bit more natural light into your daily routine!
3. Lower blood pressure and less stress
Walking among the trees can lower blood pressure and reduce the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Stress is an uncomfortable response to deal with, but it can be worse yet. Studies suggest that stress hormones may awaken dormant cancer cells that remain in the body after treatment, meaning there is a link between stress and cancer coming back.
4. Soak up Vitamin D and build up your immunity
So long as the skin is protected from extended exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays (we’ll give sunscreen another shoutout!), the sun can nourish the body with Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body use calcium and phosphorus to make strong bones and teeth. Research suggests that women with low levels of Vitamin D have a higher risk of breast cancer because vitamin D aids in building up your immune system
5. Improved mood
Perhaps the most immediate benefit to spending time outdoors is a scientifically proven good mood. Researchers have found that nature simply makes us happy and decreases anxiety, depression, and anger.
What positive changes do you notice in your health and wellbeing when you spend more time outside? Make a mental note next time you find yourself feeling healthier, more relaxed, or happier after some time outside; it may help get up and out more often! Oh, and because we never mention this too many times – don’t forget to wear your sunscreen!
* Source National Cancer Research Institute, 11/9/2021