It can sometimes be tempting to stay indoors and enjoy your creature comforts, but with the good weather sticking around, there’s no better time to step outside. Connecting with nature can do wonders for the soul and, as it turns out, the body too.
The “30 Days Wild” campaign conducted by the University of Derby and The Wildlife Trusts had people doing something “wild” every day for 30 days – this could be anything from picnicking in the park, watching the sun set to going on a nature trail… the opportunities are endless.
The results showed a significant, scientifically-proven increase in people’s health and happiness, not just throughout the campaign but for months after it was completed.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that the great outdoors can do for you:
1. Boosts your immune system
Just by breathing in fresh air, your body absorbs phytoncides which are produced by trees and other plants to protect themselves from harmful germs and insects. Walk amongst them and you will be taking in their antibacterial and antifungal properties.
What’s more, the Vitamin D your body absorbs from the sunlight is believed to help protect you against many diseases and medical conditions. But be sure to cover up or use at least SPF15 sunscreen to protect your skin.
2. Reduces stress and high blood pressure
Exposure to nature has been proven to elevate a person’s mood. When you’re feeling low, a walk outdoors amid nature is likely to improve your general sense of wellbeing by boosting serotonin. Switch off a little and listen to the sounds of nature – you will be amazed at how refreshed and meditative you will feel. Take a leaf from Albert Einstein’s book when he wrote:” “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
The calming effect of regular contact with nature can help lower your blood pressure as well as keep the levels of the two stress-related hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, to healthy levels.
3. Improves creativity and problem-solving skills
You may have noticed that if you are out in nature for a few days, you feel more in tune with it than when you started out. Being in the moment for two or three days seems to produce a greater ability for qualitative thinking and research has found that hikers have a cognitive advantage when it comes to creative and problem solving tasks.
Spending time outdoors gives the cognitive portion of your brain a break, enabling it to make more creative solutions when you’re back to your normal life again.
4. A healthier heart
It’s common knowledge that a reasonable level of activity in the fresh air does wonders for health in general. When you are out in the fresh air, you often feel more inclined to take up cardiovascular activities such as hiking, running or cycling. Exercise helps keep your weight and blood circulation at healthy levels which in turn sets you well on your way to preventing heart disease.
So, make yourself a promise to spend more time in outdoors: walk to the shop instead of driving; have lunch outdoors; plant a vegetable patch in your garden. Or at the very least, get a plant for your kitchen. For more ideas on how to spend more time in nature visit www.mywildlife.org.uk/30dayswild/