Here at Rendezvous we love to talk about the wonder and health benefits of the great outdoors. During the pandemic studies show it’s even more important to spend time outside for physical and mental health.
Over the past year we’ve all been sheltering in place and the time inside has only compounded with winter weather. The toll of the pandemic has had a major effect on all aspects of health, including longevity. The CDC has recently announced that life expectancy in the US fell by a full year, 77.8 years, due to the consequences of COVID-19. Over 42% of people surveyed by the US Census Bureau reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression; an increase of 31% from the previous year. Doctors and researchers are pursuing ways to stop the slide and help improve people’s health and well-being. What they’re finding is clear, to live longer and stronger, surround yourself with nature.
In previous articles we’ve discussed the measurable physiological and psychological benefits that spending time outdoors can have. Physicians are even prescribing time outdoors (“Park Prescriptions”) to patients in an effort to alleviate chronic conditions. Put simply, it means taking in fresh air, natural light, being near trees and green space—even in cold weather. Think of it as a daily visit with Dr. Nature or taking a daily dose of Vitamin N.
Take it Outside
A growing body of evidence shows that being in a natural environment can improve a range of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, stress and fatigue. What’s more, spending time in a forest will increase production of Natural Killer cells (an anti-cancer protein) and spending time at the beach, near a lake or river can boost vitality.
Here is a short list of what the science says about spending time outdoors:
• Enhances cognitive function, increasing mental focus and performance
• Increases energy level, balances hormones and neurotransmitters, and enables greater emotional equilibrium
• Strengthens the immune system, reduces healing time, and boosts stress response by lowering cortisol in the blood and adrenaline in the urine
• Increases Vitamin D levels to help shore up bone health and assist in immune response
• Improves the cardiovascular system and can reverse Type 2 Diabetes
To get maximum benefits be sure to get outside during daylight hours for 20-60+ minutes on most days.