Engaging in outdoor activities offers numerous benefits, a consensus among scientists worldwide. Stepping away from your desk, moving, inhaling fresh air, and soaking in natural daylight provide multiple advantages for both your body and mind.
I have no idea about figures worldwide but in Flanders for example 6 in 10 people spend less than 15 minutes outside every day. For those who do not have to be outside for work, that number increases to 8 out of 10! Within the group of indoor workers, 7 out of 10 feel a sense of longing for the outdoors during their workdays. Nonetheless, they do express their commitment to compensating for this by engaging in additional outdoor activities over the weekends.
Nature as a Healing Prescription
What if your doctor prescribed nature instead of medication? Research indicates (detailed look at The Lancet) that a stroll in the park, a trek through the woods, or a weekend getaway in nature can significantly reduce stress levels and blood pressure, lower the risk of conditions like asthma, allergies, and cardiovascular disease, and enhance your mental well-being. For instance, doctors in the Shetland Islands have been recommending beach visits as a therapeutic remedy for both physical and mental ailments.
So, whether it's sunny or raining, ensure you get your nature fix. Even in inclement weather, the wonders of nature can still work their magic.
What's the Ideal Walking Time?
Devoting just two hours a week to outdoor activities can already make a positive impact on your health. A 2019 British study revealed that individuals spending 2 or more hours in natural settings each week enjoy better health and enhanced mental resilience. To boost your health, a brief half-hour daily stroll in the open air is more than sufficient.
Light, Fresh Air, and Physical Activity
Taking a daily 30-minute walk accomplishes three beneficial objectives simultaneously: it exposes you to natural light, provides a breath of fresh air, and ensures you get some physical exercise. Why is daylight so crucial? Your body requires a daily dose of it to regulate its biological clock effectively.
The outdoor air you inhale during a brief walk is also vital for your overall well-being. It contributes to maintaining healthy airways, reducing stress, regulating blood pressure and heart rate, and enhancing your mood. Moreover, walking serves as a valuable form of exercise in your daily routine. Research has demonstrated that walking enhances cognitive functions, as it allows your brain the necessary space to process information and generate new ideas/inspiration. This physical activity also triggers the release of endorphins in your body, promoting a sense of well-being, while benefiting your circulation, muscles, and joints.
Avoid Prolonged Sitting
For individuals with desk-bound occupations, it's advisable to break up prolonged periods of sitting by taking brief breaks every half hour, in addition to your daily walk. This practice provides an added health benefit. This is one of the reasons I have such an affection for my Apple Watch. The device reminds me to stand up every hour and keeps me motivated to complete all those activity rings daily.