If you are like most of us, you probably spend over fifty hours a week working in a small, dusty cubicle in an office building a few floors up. If you're lucky, you have a window with view of something green. At the end of a long day, after fighting stop and go traffic or sitting on a dirty, crowded subway car on your way home, consider spending fifteen minutes just sitting outside on your patio or deck enjoying nature. Take deep breaths or watch the sun set. Better yet, take a glass of wine outside with you and leave the worries and cares of the day behind you. The laundry will still be there when the fifteen minutes is over, and some people even say they feel more energized after being outside for a few minutes. More importantly, doctors now believe there are a number of health benefits associated with breathing in fresh air and enjoying time outside. You may not have realized it, but being outside can help improve mental health, create stronger, healthier lungs, create deeper, sounder sleep patterns, aid digestion and may even help you live a longer, healthier life.
1. Improves Mental Health
Doctors believe one of the biggest health benefits of being outside is that it helps reduce stress levels, creating a sense of overall well-being. Some patients suffering from depression have even shown improvement after increasing the amount of time they spend outdoors each day. Watching the sun set as you relax on your patio furniture helps the brain slow down after a long, hectic day. Blood pressure begins to drop and anxiety levels decrease, creating more serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the human body that may help regulate mood. Some doctors believe there is a link between a lack of serotonin and depression.
2. Creates Better Lung Function
Breathing in fresh air strengthens your lungs by bringing in more oxygen and moving out toxins. Better lung function can mean stronger brain function, too. Additionally, stronger lung function is essential to fighting diseases like pneumonia and the flu. 3. Aides Digestion
Some doctors believe being outdoors helps the body digest food better. As you relax, muscles relax, and that aids digestion. Sitting on your patio furniture, watching the birds fly above and the sun setting is the perfect way to wind down after a long, stressful day. It can also help bring your heart rate down and produce a sense of calm, another key requirement for good digestion. Outdoor dining is a good habit to start with your family. During the spring, try to eat outside at least once a week. Later, in the summer time when it gets hot later in the day, consider eating breakfast outside. The kids will love it and you will be supporting a healthier lifestyle that they will carry with them after they leave home.
4. Better Sleep
What is it about sleeping outside that produces such a sound night's sleep? If you have ever gone camping in the mountains, chances are good you enjoyed one of the best night's sleep you have ever experienced. The same can be said for a night spent at the beach. The clean air helps you breathe better and calms your brain. The brain then produces more serotonin, which is believed to help promote sleep, memory and sexual desire. Relaxation is key to better sleep, and a night spent under the stars or listening to the waves crash against the rocks is a great way to wind down and fall asleep. If you cannot get away for a vacation, consider leaving your window open overnight if you can do so safely. Bringing the fresh air inside can make a world of difference.
5. Longer Life
Most people enjoy being outside. There is just something about nature that relaxes us, makes us skip a beat and take in our surroundings. Being outside reduces stress, promotes better lung function and creates stronger, deeper sleep patterns. It aids in digestion and helps the body create key chemicals needed to fight anxiety and depression. Time spent outdoors helps the body manufacture more Vitamin D which is essential to creating healthier, stronger bones and better memory. Each of these ingredients is a key component to living a healthier, longer life. While it can be more difficult to get outside if you work in an office building or live in a big city, it does not mean you cannot go outside. It may just mean you have to create new healthier habits. Consider walking around the block during your lunch break. Consider outdoor dining for lunch. Eating your sandwich alfresco could be fun. Better yet, make eating outdoors with your family a priority once a week. Invest in new patio furniture to make it more fun to spend time on your patio or deck. After all, your life just might depend on it.
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