5 Reasons Going Outside Will Make You Happier   

5 Reasons Going Outside Will Make You Happier

Happy woman with a backpack spending a day in nature.

September 02, 2022

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Patrick M. Kane, M.D.

Has anyone ever told you to “get some fresh air” when you weren’t feeling well? As it turns out, spending time outdoors and reconnecting with nature is a great way to improve your overall wellness.

Here are five ways that going outside can help boost your mood:

  1. It’s a great source of vitamin D.
    Being out in the sun exposes you to sunlight, which your skin uses to make vitamin D as a nutrient for your body. Vitamin D can help improve your immune system, make your bones stronger and lower your risk of developing diseases and various types of cancer.
  2. It can be the calm after the storm. 
    “Moving your body and being outside in nature can help your body to recover after stressful events in your life,” says psychiatrist, Patrick Kane, M.D. Being in nature can reduce cortisol levels and muscle tension.
  3. It’s a great way to foster connection with other people.
    Whether you’ve joined a running club, play ultimate frisbee, or are taking a walk with your family after work, exploring out in nature can be a great opportunity to bond and experience nature together.
  4. You will sleep like a baby.
    Ever notice after spending a day outside, at the beach or in your own backyard, that you sleep more soundly? Our circadian rhythm, also known as our internal clock, regulates how our body functions, and research supports that it is directly affected by how much sunlight you are exposed to. Bright light during the day will help you feel more alert and awake, and can help you fall asleep easier and feel more tired at night.
  5. Sunlight can help with feelings of depression. 
    Research suggests that exposure to sunlight impacts your body’s serotonin levels – a chemical that plays a vital role in your mood. Getting regular exposure to daylight can help raise your spirits and better your focus.

What are some outdoor health boosters I can try?

Focusing on reconnecting your body with the natural environment can play a significant role in your health. Gardening, forest bathing and earthing are three ways that you can practice this connection.

Gardening is one of the best hobbies you can take up to improve your health. Spending time outdoors and growing your own plants, flowers or food items can help to boost your feelings of happiness, success and productivity.

Not only does gardening feel good, but studies have shown that there are proven medical benefits that can help you both mentally and physically. “It is important to spend time outdoors and get exercise while breathing in the fresh air, and gardening is a great way to accomplish both,” says Dr. Kane.

There are numerous health benefits to gardening and little risks in comparison, making it a great hobby to try for your health.

Forest bathing refers to “taking in the medicine or atmosphere of the forest.” In a world that is becoming increasingly urban and technologically oriented, it can be important to take advantage of the natural resources and environment for your health. You can practice forest bathing by walking, biking or relaxing in a forest setting, such as an area with many trees.

“Those who make a habit out of walking through forested areas show evidence of having lower blood pressure and stress levels,” says Dr. Kane.

Earthing, or grounding, refers to the activities in which you immerse yourself in an “earthly” experience. These activities include walking barefoot, laying on the ground or swimming in a natural body of water. Going to your local beach or park can be a great setting to practice earthing.

Earthing can be therapeutic by refocusing your energy and thoughts on your physical experiences with the world around you. These grounding exercises can improve your mental health by helping to reduce anxiety, stress and other negative emotions.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care. 


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