What if I told you that you could lose weight, accomplish more, reduce your risk of osteoporosis and cancer, be happier, stay more focused on your tasks, and even heal your own wounds faster? What if I told you that this was even easier than taking a pill(our solution for most things nowadays)? Excited yet? I am. Get off your computer right now and go outside.
Okay, are you back? You never left? I’m serious; go outside.
The health benefits of being outside are far too lucrative to spend more of your time indoors than you have to. Most people will say that they already knew that, but did they really? Why wouldn’t they be outside of they knew how much better it was for them? The truth is that the slew of normal excuses(I’m far too busy, I don’t like going outside, I may fall off a cliff, I like the feeling of my brain rotting in front of the tv, etc..) are often at best a bunch of bs and at worst, laziness. Unfortunately, this has become commonplace in the US and much of the developed world because things have gotten easier and people lazier. Laziness isn’t always a bad thing – your body and brain need to rest, but when it becomes an everyday event, there’s a problem. People become lazy because they can. We don’t need to exercise nor do we need to go outside for anything, and there aren’t many immediate effects of not exercising or spending time outdoors(save the desire to not go outside the next day). However, the effects build, we become lazier, and our health suffers for it.
“In the last two decades, childhood has moved indoors. The average American boy or girl spends just four to seven minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day, and more than seven hours each day in front of an electronic screen.
This shift inside profoundly impacts the wellness of our nation’s kids. Childhood obesity rates have more than doubled the last 20 years; the United States has become the largest consumer of ADHD medications in the world; and pediatric prescriptions for antidepressants have risen precipitously.
Our kids are out of shape, tuned out and stressed out, because they’re missing something essential to their health and development: connection to the natural world.”- copied and pasted from this site.
The fact of the matter is that there is a problem and anyone who has fallen off the exercise bandwagon- as I’m sure 98%(the other 2% is lying) of you have -knows that fixing the problem is going to be a rough, but necessary journey. General regular exercise has been clinically proven to reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes, reduce obesity levels, increase concentration and productivity(I usually make up any work I lost to work out just by my increased focus level), and many more health benefits.
Being outside gives you more appreciation and respect for the earth, allows you to breath fresher air and clear your head of everything else, and in my experience allows one to brainstorm without thinking about the fuzz of everyday life – sharpening focus and allowing me to solve problems more quickly and lift burdens from my shoulders.
The vitamin D from the sunlight is better than that of a supplement – you can absorb more of it and it’s free(as of now anyway)! Vitamin D provides numerous health benefits including but not limited to: absorbing other nutrients including vitamin C, calcium and phosphorus for strong bone, joint and immune system health, reduces stress, reduce risk of cancer, osteoporosis and a long list of other diseases – heck these guys say it way better than I ever could.
You already workout, so why should you do it outside? I’m glad that you go to the gym regularly. Keep it up, because if you stay disciplined and keep working hard, you will see progress. However, aside from the increase fresh air and vitamin D there are other health benefits to being outside. One, as mentioned previously, being outside increases your focus. It clears the mind and allows you to solve problems on your mind more quickly. This is both a benefit and a handicap. A person can solve problems more quickly and stay focused throughout the day, but if you workout at night or in the evening, you probably have sleeping problems. In high school, I always had football go through the evenings and I would just go home and think. My mind was extremely sharp. The problem: I could hardly sleep! Eventually my mind calmed down and at that point I was asleep instantly, but until then, my mind would focus on problems I had. After games(which sometimes went as late as 11), I would often not sleep until 3 or 4. This was obviously a problem when I had to be up at 6 for the SAT! I would not suggest working out outside before going to sleep. If you do workout at night, though, I would suggest picking one of these up: headlamp. This one is pretty badass and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rolled ankles while trail running at night.
While it’s easier to set goals on an indoor treadmill than a hiking trail, it’s easier to fulfill your goals on the trail! When on a treadmill, you can just hop off whenever you want – even before you’re supposed to(you know you’ve done it). If you are on a trail, you still have to make it home. I’m not sure if it’s the vitamin D or the increased incentive, but people who workout outside tend to be in better shape and have better overall health.
Exercise and outdoor activity both decrease the need for drugs, increases social interaction, gives the individual person a better understanding and appreciation of the earth, promotes a longer healthier life, and increases focus, perseverance, drive, desire and productivity. The root of the problems this country has can be solved with a change in culture that allows us to spend more time outside. Can you really afford not to go outside?