The benefits of being outdoors are getting recognised… On a recent zoom meeting, we were all asked what 1 thing had helped us most during lockdown? The overwhelming response was taking exercise outdoors every day. For so many of us, time spent outside has helped us through.
More and more scientific evidence shows that getting outside is good for us and can improve our mental and physical health.
Research has even found that parts of the brain which operate our behaviour and learning, increase and develop better in people taking physical activity and being outside.
Just taking 10-15 minutes outdoors each day has the ultimate effect. (Dr William Bird MBE)
Many of the benefits of being out in nature were highlighted in a recent Countryfile programme (15t Nov 2020). They showed that:
The act of being mindful also boosted self-compassion and empathy, meaning we are less judgemental and negatively critical of ourselves.
Giving yourself a longer spell of time away from your normal environment with its artificial light, electrical goods and screens is also beneficial. Not only does the change in environment stimulate us but being out in the open air all day – being active and exercising – will also help us sleep well and wake naturally with the sounds of the birds.
Spending 3 or more days away from blue-light devices and LED lights allows our body’s circadian rhythm to reset. This means our internal clock, which regulates our sleep and waking, gets back into sync with nature allowing us good quality sleep so we can rest and repair. This restorative sleep is crucial for us to function properly.
So, in short – get outside and enjoy all the benefits of being outdoors. Whenever you can, get out amongst nature, slow down and notice your surroundings.
There is growing research into ‘The 3 day Effect’. Research participants – some with severe PTSD and other mental health issues – spent time out in nature and had their cognitive abilities, blood pressure and cortisol levels measured on each of the days. The results recorded (and interviews) showed clear improvements of reduced anxiety, enhanced creativity and improved overall well-being by day 3 of being immersed in nature.
If you possibly can, book yourself a break of 3 days or more where you can be out in nature, day and night, as soon as you can!
Are you feeling reluctant to throw yourself into a wild camping adventure? If that feels too much, go in gradually and gently – you can get all the same benefits of being outdoors without needing to buy all the gear if you go glamping. Here is what you can expect:
Links to research:
The 3-day Effect, Florence Williams (audible)