What are the benefits of being outdoors in nature?9th March 2021
Mother Nature might not be missing us as much as we’re missing her while the great outdoors are strictly rationed during Covid-19. Still, as soon as normalcy returns, the Galloway Woodlands’ team won’t be alone in feeling frisky at the prospect of roaming free again.
A study by Zoopla found that 57% of Brits were struggling with their mental health because of the amount of time we’ve been cooped up in lockdowns and dubbed ‘the green prescription’, spending time outdoors is such powerful medicine for both mind and body.
As we all prepare to gorge on the great outdoors once again, you might think you know what all the benefits of being outdoors in nature are, but think again…
What’s the rush?
You can go all Wordsworth on us and pen poetry about passing clouds and commune with nature if you like, and why the devil not – it’s not all about taking huge gulps of fresh air and rushing here, there and everywhere.
Take time to stop and smell the roses because it’s by taking it all in that you’ll find the greatest benefits, and if you’re old enough to remember the sitcom The Good Life about a couple that went off-grid to become self-sufficient by growing their own food, you’ll remember how happy and carefree it made them and growing your vegetables is also a superb thing to do if you’ve got the means. Being around animals has similar stress-busting effects.
Stress, anger, feelings of no confidence – they can all be washed away after a few hours outside, a wonderful overall benefit to your mental health too, of course.
Health benefits of being outdoors
A lot of this is nothing new. A 1980s’ US study discovered the power of green spaces when patients with a view of nature from their hospital bed recovered faster than those looking out on a brick wall.
Research into ecotherapy (a type of formal treatment that involves doing activities outdoors in nature) has shown it can help with mild to moderate depression when combined with social contact.
Vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunlight and low gut microbial diversity could lead to a rise in certain allergies and some autoimmune diseases. Being outside also boosts the immune system overall, plus our pores open and skin breathes better, giving it a chance to expel toxins. The cool air can also prevent sebum; making hair and skin is less shiny and oily.
Looking at trees can likewise lower blood pressure while reducing the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline, while those healing from surgery have made speedier recoveries by being outdoors more, resulting in fewer painkillers.
Grow old gracefully by being outdoors
According to a study in the Journal of Aging and Health, adults over 70 that are outdoors a lot have fewer aches and pains, enjoy greater mobility, and generally grow old more gracefully.
So, all in all, nature makes us happy!