Janey-Jones

Don't be SAD. Get outdoors for tons of health benefits

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How does your typical day unfold?

 

You probably wake up, eat your breakfast, go to the office, work, have lunch, work some more, go home do some chores, have dinner, relax a bit and go to sleep. You do this five days a week, two hundred and forty seven days a year.  Some of you might interject that you have a social life as well, attend cultural events and so forth. If you’re conscious about your health you might even exercise at the gym or swimming pool, or even at home in your bedroom or lounge with an excercise DVD on the tv screen, on a regular basis.

I’m here to tell you that there’s something more that you can and should do for your health, GET OUTDOORS.

Here is a great video that I found mostly about the importance of getting kids outdoors,  yet its still applicable to all of us adults today too.

 

 

 

In a short span of time our species has moved from the savannah to the jungle. An artificial jungle, made out of concrete and glass, which leaves little to no room for anything natural. The problem is, our bodies and our minds crave natural things, and the fact that we perceive green as a soothing calming color is no coincidence. Our link to nature is so strong that a Dutch study concluded that even living near a wooded area (0.6 miles away) or park decreased anxiety levels and lowered the likelihood of depression. This makes sense, if we were to compress the history of the modern human species (I’m only talking about homo sapiens and not any of our earlier ancestors) into a single day, then we would have spent about 23 hours 58 minutes and 30 seconds as hunter gatherers, nomads and farmers,  …………. and we would have only started living mostly in urban settings for the last 1 minute and 30 seconds. This makes it clear that our natural element is out in the wild, and NOT in the city.

 

Another reason why you shouldn’t miss a trip to the park is to get in a bit of sunlight. The sun gets a bad reputation for being a health risk, but complete lack of sunlight does more harm than good. This is because the yellow ball in the sky is our main source of vitamin D.

The most commonly known benefit of vitamin D is improving bone health by enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium, phosphate, zinc and iron. However new studies are showing that its health benefits extend beyond the skeletal system. People with sufficient vitamin D exposure have been shown to have healthier vascular systems, stronger immune systems and better hormonal balance. Although it should be noted that these health benefits could also be the cause of living a more active lifestyle, which people who are regularly exposed to natural sunlight tend to have.

Many of us suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during late autumn and winter months. This is because the days are short and our exposure to natural sunlight is limited to say the least. Getting a bit of sunlight on the weekends by taking up a winter sport can alleviate if not make the symptoms of SAD disappear. Even if you’re not too keen on winter sports, you can take up snow walking, or regular walking if your area doesn’t get any snow. If you’re first thought is to complain about the bad weather don’t, there’s no bad weather only bad gear. Get some nice waterproof clothing and boots and anything short of a hurricane is not an acceptable excuse.

 

Still not convinced that the sun is good for you? Health care workers have observed that patients who are exposed to ample amounts of natural light through windows, have shorter hospital stays and develop fewer complications than patients in rooms with mostly artificial lighting.

 

Do you have trouble sleeping, well you’ve guessed it, getting outside can help with that as well.

Being a bad sleeper seems to be one of the most common complaints people seem to have in regards to their health.   Mind you that not getting a good nights sleep affects memory, cognition –people who don’t get enough quality sleep do significantly worse on tests designed to test mental acuity compared to people who do- and your overall health due to a compromised immune system. Most try to solve the issue by way of medication, which at best is a temporary fix as in time stronger and stronger medication is needed. Another reason why drugs should not be used as a long-term solution is because more often than not they produce unwanted complications and side effects.   Of course for some people who have suffered brain damage or other physiological damage drugs are the only solution, but most people don’t fall into this category. They have issues with sleeping because their circadian rhythm –our body’s inner clock- is out of balance. The circadian rhythm takes its cues from the sun, so all you need to do to reset it is take a break from your electronic gadgets and spend a bit more time outside.

 

Last but not least is the fact that going out on a nature walk counts as good exercise for both mind and body. Considering the fact that most of us spend 8 hours at work sitting and another 3 at home, we should strive to get as much exercise as we possibly can.

 

So what are you waiting for, you heard all of the reasons why you should be spending your free time in the great outdoors. Shutdown the device you’re reading this article on, go to the nearest green space that’s at least 2 acres in size and fill your lungs with the fresh scent of nature.

 

Happy trails.

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I'm forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air..

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