Heading Outdoors Can Help Improve Your Overall Health

If you're looking for ways to improve your health or are ready to make some changes in your busy technology-filled world, look no further than outside. Being in nature with the sound of the birds, the greenery of the trees, and the feeling of fresh air can provide more health benefits than you might think. A study published in Scientific Reports found that spending at least 120 minutes per week outdoors resulted in improved health and well-being. In addition, exposing yourself to sunlight and open air can carry many benefits for your health (via Healthline).

"Being outdoors in nature can be healing and beneficial for the body and mind," certified therapeutic recreational specialist Erica Price tells Sharp. "Whether at the beach, forest or in a neighborhood park, nature offers a calming effect. And when we combine nature with physical activity, it can help fight depression and anxiety." Adding in physical exercise doesn't have to be anything too complicated either, and can be something as simple as a daily walk.

Improves mental health

Exercise and presence outdoors can help improve symptoms of anxiety, depression, or stress because the sun helps keep your serotonin levels up as it also reduces levels of cortisol. Not only does it counteract seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression, but it also adds a source of vitamin D to boost body and mental health. Additionally, time outdoors can also lower your blood pressure, which is often caused by stress. Boost your feelings of happiness, optimism, and confidence by spending some time in the great outdoors (via WebMD).

Boosts immune system

When you are outdoors, you are essentially exposing your body to many natural elements found in the ground, the trees, or other plants around you. Phytoncides are organic compounds released into the air by plants, which have been found to increase natural killer cells, or a type of white blood cells, when exposed to them. Additionally, exposure to sunlight can also increase T-cells, another type of white blood cell that helps fight against infections (via Trip Outside).

Improves focus

Time outside can help boost mental clarity, focus, and creativity. In fact, in a study conducted by Frances E. Kuo, an associate professor at the University of Illinois' Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, it was found that time in nature helped reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, in children. "Increasingly the research is showing that outdoor and nature play is incredibly important for kids, for both their cognitive and emotional development," author of "The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative," Florence Williams tells Fatherly. Time in nature offers a mental break from all the technology and distractions you may have.

Improves sleep

Your body's internal clock naturally follows the sun, which is what makes you wake up during the day and sleep at night. Exposure to sunlight offers 200 times more intensity than indoor lighting and has a strong effect on your body's circadian rhythm, or your body's mental or physical changes during a 24-hour period. Because of this, spending time outside, specifically in the sun, can help improve your sleep. It helps you feel more tired at night, shortens how long it takes for you to fall asleep, and improves the quality of your sleep (via Healthline).

Natural pain reliever

According to research by Yuill Herbert of Sustainability Solutions Group and Professor Ann Dale of Royal Roads University, it was found that people recovering post-surgery experienced quicker healing and had less of a need to take painkillers when exposed to nature. Further studies also suggest that people who suffer from chronic pain should consider implementing "green exercise," or exercise outdoors, as part of their treatment plan because of the many health benefits it has to offer for physical and mental well-being.