Getting outside is vital for mental and physical health. Even if you’re stuck at home, a little fresh air should be a priority.
The COVID-19 crisis changed all of our lives, making it suddenly necessary to stay at home almost all of the time. This was a big adjustment for many people, especially those who are used to staying active. If your weekly routine usually involves visiting friends, hitting the gym, taking walks and going for runs, then the new pandemic-imposed lifestyle was probably hard to get used to. You might have felt like staying inside was bad for you, both physically and mentally. And you know what? You were right! Getting outside, breathing fresh air, and experiencing nature are essential for mental and physical health.
Here are some of the major benefits of spending time outdoors:
Even if it’s just for a little bit and doesn’t involve any exercise, simply being outside and breathing fresh air has been shown to significantly increase your energy levels. One study equated twenty minutes of fresh air to drinking a cup of coffee.
Improved Immune System
Especially if there are plants in the area, a little time outdoors can make you more immune to disease. Plants produce an airborne chemical called phytoncide, which, when inhaled, helps the body produce more white blood cells, which in turn boosts the immune system.
There’s a reason Thoreau is far from the only writer to enjoy a walk in the woods. A bit of time in nature has been shown to increase creativity by up to fifty percent.
Exposure to natural sunlight accounts for the bulk of our vitamin D acquisition. If you spend day after day indoors, you could wind up with a vitamin D deficiency that will lead to a lack of calcium in the body and increased susceptibility to osteoporosis.
When you’re stuck at home, embarking on the Appalachian Trail is obviously not an option. Still, there are probably ways for you to get outside at least for a little while. If you have a yard or garden, take advantage of it. If you live in an apartment building, make use of any terrace or outdoor area you have access to. When completely stuck inside, at least sit by an open window where you have direct access to fresh air and natural sunlight.
Even if you’re sedentary by nature, you can still bring part of your life outside. Do you like to read? Bring your book to the garden. Into cooking? Try chopping veggies on the deck. The key is just to get outside. Your mental and physical health depends on it.