How Can Outdoor Activities Improve Your Mental Health

Improving Long-Term Psychological Well-being

How Can Outdoor Activities Improve Your Mental Health

Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction. – E. O. Wilson. Simply by being outside in the fresh air, among the trees, we are refilling our body with energy and balance it needs to get through the day.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology suggested that being in nature for just 20 minutes a day is sufficient to boost vitality levels.

And that sense of increased vitality goes way beyond the energizing effects of social interaction and physical activity.

Just imagine what would happen if you combine all of those beneficial doings.

Improving Long-Term Psychological Well-being

Another study performed by the University of Michigan concluded that extended outdoor activities can lead to long-term improvement of individual’s mental health.

Study included nearly hundred veterans. Most of them reported various changes in psychological well-being, even though they previously faced severe health problems.

The activities they have participated in (kayaking, fly-fishing, paddling, etc.) proved to have extended benefits, such as creativity, openness and willingness to help others.

Being One with Nature

Science is definitely taking nature’s side, since one more study, this time Stanford’s, finds that people who walk for 90 minutes in natural surrounding are less likely to get depressed.

Outdoor recreation, especially, increases the feel-good factor of exercising and helps you reduce stress and anxiety. The mere exposure to sunlight triggers the release of serotonin – “the happiness hormone”.

Outdoor Exercising Is Better than Indoor

You do not have to be a genius to conclude that exercising alone carries a lot of benefits, and if you combine the very act with the additional benefits of outdoor exercising, you will realize that outdoor physical activities outweigh their indoor counterparts.

Most of the spiritual retreats recommend exercising in nature (yoga, cycling, hiking, etc.) as one of the cures for stress and anxiety.

A number of studies showed that walk in nature comparing to walk on treadmill (for the same time or distance) significantly increases vitality, pleasure and enthusiasm while lowering depression, tension and fatigue after the very activity.

It is similar with cycling and other exercises.

Outdoor Exercising Is Better than Indoor

Social Benefits

The quantity and quality of social relationships significantly influences mental health and even mortality risk.

Participating in outdoor physical activity can provide a solid opportunity for meeting new people and building relationship with the ones already in your life.

That is especially true when you are participating in some group activity which requires teamwork, and working in a team is a firm basis for a lasting friendship.

Furthermore, joined outdoor sports and activities are great ways to spend some quality family time in nature instead of in front of the TV.

It Is Healthy and Fun

The gym may lure you with its fancy controlled and predictable climate, but if you have ever visited it then you know how hard it is not to look at other people working out and compare your capabilities and figure with theirs.

That causes nothing but bad mood and perhaps, in some cases, even depression.

Outdoor exercising is, on the other side, pleasant and relaxing. There are no judgments or complicated devices – just your mind, body, fresh air and fun. It is no wonder that activities in nature can make you so happy and satisfied.

It Is Healthy and Fun

You Will Sleep Better

Lack of sleep can affect your mood, judgment, safety and work performance. In the long run, it can also lead to various physical and psychological disorders.

You would be surprised to know just how much can regular exposure to sunlight improve your sleep patterns and help you feel less tired.

Natural light sets your body’s clock for a better night sleep. Exercising outside can help your body to properly regulate its temperature rhythm, which will make you fall asleep much easier.

Now that you see how valuable the time you spend in nature is, you should do your best to use it.

It is not as difficult or time-demanding you might think. The next time you arrange a coffee with your friend, decide to take a walk in the park instead.