Manology: 5 Mental Health & Physical Benefits of the Great Outdoors
Getting outside and enjoying the best of what nature has to offer has many benefits. Not only is this a great opportunity to break away from the stresses of everyday life, but it also offers many body, mind and social benefits as well. Here are five ways anyone can benefit from the great outdoors:
- Mental Health. Feeling anxious about something? Escaping the indoors and heading outside is not only beneficial to your physical health, but your mental health as well. When you slow down, stop the busywork and take in beautiful natural surroundings, not only do you feel restored, but also your mental performance improves. It’s a great way to forget about the stresses of life while you are out on a hike, bike ride or while hunting or fishing, but you will test your mind by doing things such as reading a map, making decisions and learning about nature. Simply put … getting outside mellows you out.
- Physical Health. First and foremost, getting out and doing things puts your body to work. Outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, running and biking are all physically enduring activities that are beneficial for one’s physical health and can improve one’s well-being. Although you may not consciously be exercising, you’re putting your body in motion — making it perform tasks that require energy. Turning these actions into habits can help reduce the risk of diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and stroke (among many others). Even if you can only tear out into the woods once in a while, it is certainly worth it.
- Social Health. What’s a better way to bond with friends than being out in the middle of the woods? Often times, people who enjoy doing outdoor activities tend to do them as a group. This helps to improve social skills, as well as learn to work with others, creating essential problem solving and teambuilding skills.
- Productivity. In your busy, tech-driven world, external factors are constantly competing for your attention. Natural environments do not require this kind of directed attention, which gives the mind a chance to reboot itself. Not only does nature help focus your attention, but it also promotes positive emotions, giving people a sense of accomplishment, productiveness and contentment. Taking a simple walk outside — a walk in nature — where stimuli makes a much less dramatic play for our involuntary attention, allows your directed attention to have a rest, leaving it primed and ready to tackle difficult cognitive tasks once more.
- Environmental. Getting outside, without television and electronic devices, exploring the world around you will help develop an appreciation of the environment, the environmental issues our society faces today, and how you can make a difference to improve the environment. You will appreciate its beauty and wonder and, in turn, care more about protecting it.