The Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors

Ilia Jones  |  Posted: Friday, April 26th, 2019

The time has (finally) come when we can put our winter coats back into storage and get outside!

We Minnesotans love the outdoors, and for good reason. There are some incredible benefits to spending time outdoors.  Some that are obvious, like that sunkissed tint on our faces and the smell of fresh Spring air. While some that are not so obvious, like mental and physical benefits proven to be linked with time spent outdoors.  We have outlined just a few of the benefits of spending time outdoors.

Stress Relief

Who doesn’t need a bit of stress relief every now and again? Research shows that if you’re stressed, you should head outside. Specifically, highly forested outdoor environments have been shown to actually lower the amount of cortisol produced. Cortisol is the stress hormone, so a lower production of cortisol means less stress.

We know that physical activity has a profound effect on stress levels, and outdoor activity only increases that effect. But just being outside without physical activity can reduce stress levels and improve overall mental health, more on that next.

Improved Mental Health

Studies have shown a correlation between eased mental health issues like anxiety and depression with time spent outdoors.  A buzzword has even recently emerged called ecotherapy which likens time outside to therapeutic practices. Ecotherapy is defined as healing and growth nurtured by healthy interaction with the earth.

Essentially, time spent outdoors can reduce stress, ease feelings of anxiety, and even reduce symptoms of depression. This is thought to be due to the restorative properties of nature.  Time outdoors coupled with exercise or any kind of physical activity shows an even deeper benefit to mental health.

Studies indicate that exposure to outdoor physical activity or “green exercise” improves self-esteem and mood consistency, with the presence of water generating greater effects. Just another reason to be grateful to live in the land of 10,000 lakes!

Improved Physical Health

Exposure to the outdoors, especially highly vegetated areas reduces the risk of multiple physical diseases including cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Global data involving more than 290 million people showed that populations with higher levels of green space exposure are more likely to report good overall health.  

Time spent outdoors can also improve your immune system and in turn, reduce your risk of getting sick during those pesky cold and flu seasons. Since the immune system is directly related to gut health, time spent in nature can actually support your microbiome located in your gut. This improves things like digestion and a healthy weight.

Ideas for Outdoor Activities

Virtually anything that can be done indoors, can be done outdoors.  Here are a few ideas of getting outside that can be done right here in Minnesota! From the bluffs of Red Wing to our very own marsh, our wonderful state has a plethora of outdoor activities to offer.

Get outside with us! We have wonderful outdoor activities coming up and we’d love for you to join us.  Find out more!