Fall is arguably one of the nicest times of the year. The sizzling summer sun has eased off keeping the bugs at bay and the plaguing allergens to a minimum. For those who seem to simply melt in heat and can’t work up the nerve to step foot outdoors once the winter winds blow, the autumn months are ideal for sneaking in a little outdoor time.
But did you know that aside from simply enjoying the pleasantness of the temperature, you are actually reaping a world of benefits with every hour you spend outside? Read on to see how spending some time in the great outdoors this fall can improve your health.
Exercise is More Enjoyable and More Affective
If the heat of the summer and bitter cold of the winter keep you running in place on a treadmill for months on end, then this is the perfect time to ditch the gym and exercise outside.
Not only are gyms breeding grounds for germs and bacteria, but let’s face it, they are also boring. Who hasn’t found themselves staring at the clock, counting down the seconds until the session is over or repeating the same mundane routine over and over? While the session may seem tortuous, in reality you are probably burning a lot fewer calories than you think.
Ditch the gym, grab some friends and get outside. The resistance of wind and the changing terrain require you to utilize different muscles when walking, running or cycling, resulting in more calorie burn for your buck.
And outdoor exercisers often report higher energy levels and more motivation. Plus, the change of scenery will make the time fly right by. You’ll enjoy a 5 to 7 percent increased calorie burn for the same amount of time exercising indoors and probably be tempted to go even longer!
Your Mental Health Gets A Boost
The average American spends eight hours each day staring at an electronic screen. It’s no wonder we are on average more aggravated, stressed out and depressed than ever before. Give your mind and your eyes a break and instead of relaxing in front of a TV (another electronic screen) go for a walk around a lake or other scenic area to clear your head.
When research participants in Japan went for a walk in the woods, they experienced a 12.4 percent decrease in the stress hormone, cortisol, and reported less anxiety and a greater sense of well-being than those who remained in an urban setting.
And another study found that group-based outdoor recreation has a positive effect on the mental health of individuals experiencing depression or anxiety. So instead of unwinding with a cocktail, grab some friends and camping supplies and hit the nearest state park.
You’re Never Too Old or Too Young To Reap the Rewards of Outdoor Fun
Children today face the threat of obesity, chronic diseases and mental health issues more than ever before. Instead of buying your son or daughter the latest video game, invest in some time spent at a local park. Research has linked unstructured outdoor play for children with a laundry list of mental and physical health benefits.
Aside from sneaking in exercise, outdoor playtime results in increased creativity, better problem-solving and cooperation skills and more focus and self-discipline. Children who play outdoors also report less aggression and greater levels of happiness, perhaps suggesting that more grownups could benefit from a good old-fashioned game of tag as well.
But children aren’t the only ones who benefit from the great outdoors. One study examining the benefits of outdoor activity found that seniors who spent more time outdoors at age 70 experienced less musculoskeletal pain, fewer sleep problems and depended less on others for assistance in daily tasks than those who remained indoors more. So get outside now, you’ll thank yourself when you’re 80!
– The Alternative Daily