Why Spending Time Outdoors Makes You Feel Better

 

We all know that it’s good for us to spend time outdoors, right? But do you know why? We thought we would do some research and bring you the scientific evidence to explain why it is so important to spend time with Mother Nature. And we put it in a list, naturally.

 

Woman In Sea

 

1. Connect Through Wild Swimming.

Open water swimming has unsurprisingly been a popular activity here on the island for years, and there's a thriving community of year round sea swimmers who take to the beaches and the bathing pools at La Vallette every day in Guernsey. Speak to any of these hardy souls and they'll tell you that yes, it's cold, but they feel so refreshed and energised after even the quickest of dips on a bracing morning. And the health benefits of this wellness trend are backed up by scientific research. One such study found that regular swimming in the sea can result in beneficial changes in your mind, your body and even your sense of identity. The positive effects include an increased sense of belonging with nature and give the individual an enhanced sense of connection, expanding their perspectives about themselves and the world around them. 

Tempted? Take a look at The Best Sea Swimming Spots Around The Bailiwick for help to find the best places for sea swimming locally, depending on the type of experience you're looking for. It also includes a bonus mini-list in there from Guernsey Swim Adventures to remind you of ways to stay safe and be seen.

 

2.  Discover Wolff's Law.

Our friends over at Isle Health like to keep their practice research based and they recently shared the science behind Wolff's Law, one of the processes that underpins the need for us to stay active to ensure we have good health. Put simply, it means that if we regularly go for a walk - on a Wednesday evening for example - our bones will become denser and stronger. Conversely, if we don't do this, our bones will do the opposite and become weaker, putting us at risk of physical ailments such as osteoarthritis in later life. Sounds obvious, right? But someties we need a reminder that a simple thing like a regular walk can have long reaching health benefits.

 

3.  Try Random Acts of Wildness.

A month-long campaign looked at the effects on our health of engaging with nature every day. The participants chose daily activities from a list of Random Acts of Wildness, ranging from the simple act of smelling a wild flower to exploring a local wildlife area for the first time. The results confirmed that exposure to nature can result in positive wellbeing benefits such as improved vitality and mood and reduced anxiety. They showed that people’s health improved and their feelings of happiness were considerably higher through regular, daily contact with nature. Best of all, the happy feelings remained for months after they had finished the challenge.

 

Garden Slate

 

4.  Exposure to Plants Boosts Immunity.

With winter approaching, and the threat of the C-word looking to be with us for the long term, anything we can do to boost our immune system has to be a good thing, right? Especially if it’s as easy as spending a few hours surrounded by trees. Through a series of studies in Japan, where the practice of forest bathing originated, scientists have found that spending just a couple of hours in parks and other woodland places can result in increased immune function.

 

5.  Spending Time Outdoors Reduces Stress.

It’s official - living close to nature and spending time outside can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and it can reduce your stress levels. A study measured people’s levels of cortisol, a physiological marker of stress, and found that exposure to green spaces significantly reduced their levels. This is really important because the results of a recent report on the impact of Covid showed that only 9% of the Guernsey participants had experienced no stress or anxiety. That’s a whopping 91% of us who are dealing with some level of stress. It really is time to get back to nature. And we're incredibly lucky to be surrounded by it!

 

 

6.  It Only Takes Two Hours a Week.

All it takes is a couple of hours a week enjoying nature to notice an improvement in how you feel. A scientific report has shown that spending just two hours a week in natural environments such as parks, woodland and beaches is associated with feelings of good health and wellbeing. The study of almost twenty thousand adults, including those with long-term health issues, found that it doesn't matter how the two hours of outdoor time is achieved, it can be one long walk or several shorter trips outside. (By the way - walking to work counts!)

 

7.  You Can Avoid Nature Deficit Disorder.

And finally, if we haven’t persuaded you to go outside more, watch out for Nature Deficit Disorder. Over in America, the preference for sitting in front of a screen rather than going outside has become so extreme that it has been given this label. In a book on the subject, Richard Louv directly links a lack of nature in our lives to worrying childhood trends such as rising obesity levels, attention deficit disorder and depression, with studies showing that too much screen time spells trouble for the developing mind. In the book, he quotes a child who told him he prefers to play indoors “because that’s where all the electrical outlets are!

 

We'll see you on the beach!

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