Most of us spend 90 percent of our time indoors on average. This is mostly due to technology changing our way of life. Unfortunately, all this indoor time is negatively affecting our health.
Here's why you should start going outside more:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the concentration of certain pollutants is often two to five times higher indoors than outdoors.
Symptoms of breathing polluted indoor air include burning eyes, breathing problems, headaches, scratchy throat, brain fog, and fatigue.
When you're indoors, pollutants include carbon monoxide, particulate matter from fireplaces and cooking appliances, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde and flame retardants. You also come into contact with dust, mold, dirt, and pet fur.
Increasing ventilation helps, but it's even better to be outside for a few minutes every day.
Science proves that going outdoors reduces stress. A 2009 study observed that after going on nature walks, people reported lower levels of stress.
A 2010 study showed that forest bathing (walking through the forest)—reduced levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and decreased stress and anxiety. It also improved moods, reduced blood pressure and heart rate, as well as fatigue.
Several studies have linked time spent indoors with myopia (nearsightedness) in children. Researchers in 2012 assessed children of ages 7, 10, 11, 12, and 15 years. Those who spent more time outdoors were less likely to develop myopia.
Time spent outdoors is also helpful for adults. The more time we spend in front of screens, the more we're likely to suffer dry eye syndrome. Letting the eyes focus on distant objects exercises different muscles and allows the eyes to relax.
Many of us don't get enough vitamin D, because we spend so much time indoors. Low vitamin D levels contribute to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy complications, depression, hip fractures, and cancer.
Our bodies' best source of vitamin D is the sun. Diet doesn't provide enough for our daily requirements. You need at least 15 minutes of direct sun exposure on your skin every day.
The quality of your sleep depends on the hormone melatonin and your natural circadian rhythm. Your exposure to sunlight affects these two factors.
A study done by researchers from the St. Louis University School of Medicine noted that sunlight helps set our body's internal clocks. People need 30-60 minutes of exposure to direct sunlight to experience better sleep patterns. Residents of a nursing home who had insomnia were exposed to natural light. They experienced less difficulty falling asleep and less episodes of nighttime wakefulness.
Being outside stimulates us to move more. Studies show that people who run or cycle outdoors burn more calories and use more energy than those who use stationary bikes or treadmills. Other studies have found that people generally enjoy exercising outdoors more and therefore tend to do it for longer and burn more calories.
Stepping outside for a few minutes and getting a little fresh air and sunshine can help boost your attention span.
A study from the University of Michigan found that interacting with nature helped improve memory and attention, with short-term memory improved by 20 percent.
Instead of drinking a cup of coffee when you feel drained, take a short walk outside. A 2010 study found that those who walked outside reported higher productivity levels.
Other studies show that being around nature helps combat the feelings of exhaustion.
Spending time outside is beneficial to your mental well-being, according to scientists. It boosts the levels of serotonin in the brain—the neurotransmitter that boosts our moods.
One recent study found that groups of participants who took nature walks experienced reduced symptoms of depression, and their mental well-being improved.
In the survey mentioned earlier on forest bathing, and in a follow-up study on the same, researchers found that participants who walked among trees had stronger immune systems. After the participants inhaled natural phytoncides in the air, their blood tests showed increased activity of natural killer cells.
The effects of increased immune function lasted up to 30 days after the walk.
With all these positive effects of nature on our health, why not spend more time outdoors this year? Your body will thank you.
The Sole Toscana Beauty Team