Once upon a time, young people spent their entire summer outdoors. This is markedly different than the youth of today, who are constantly distracted by electronics — television, video games, computers, smartphones — and, of course, the Internet. This year, make an effort to spend more time outside, and you’ll be handsomely rewarded, as it has been proven time and time again that fresh air is truly good for you. Plus, you’ll probably feel better if you ditch your cell or laptop for a few hours. Below are five ways that time spent outdoors can better both your mind and body.
1. Free Vitamin D
Vitamin D has been shown to fight depression, cancer and osteoporosis. And while you probably won’t have to worry about the latter for many years to come, it’s clear that Vitamin D sends feel-good vibes throughout your body if it can alleviate the symptoms of depression. Sensible sun exposure can help your body create more Vitamin D, so take a walk outside if you’re feeling down this summer. Even if you aren’t Vitamin D-deficient, simply being exposed to light is shown to boost moods, and no light source is more effective at this than the sun.
2. Sharpen Your Memory
Remember that last exam you took and how hard it was to remember all of the facts that you studied endlessly? Perhaps taking up a walking regimen this summer will help you in school or at work. Studies have shown that a nature walk can boost your memory up to 16 percent, and thanks to animal repellents and MP3 players, you can make sure your strolls are as peaceful as possible.
3. Boost Your Energy
It might seem counterintuitive, but taking a stroll outside can actually boost your energy. That’s because as you breathe in fresh air your body’s circulation, and oxygenation improves. This boosts your energy stores so that you feel peppy and ready to take on the rest of the day. Added bonus: If you walk in the morning, you’ll not only enjoy this boost throughout the day, but you’ll find it easier to lay down and fall asleep at the end of the day.
4. Exercise, Whether On Purpose or Not
If you’re spending time outside, you’ll probably have to make an effort to get there; in other words, you have to move. By making a promise to yourself that you’ll spend more time outdoors this summer, you’re practically promising to exercise more. From walking to rollerblading to biking to swimming, the opportunities for enjoying the outdoors and exercising simultaneously are endless, and the body-bettering benefits of exercising are clear.
5. Find Hope for the Future
Maybe you’ve been waitlisted at the college of your dreams, or maybe you’ve applied to what feels like endless entry-level jobs without hearing back. Rather than coop up indoors and sulk, head outside and find the nearest, most impressive natural landscape. Whether you look over a rushing river or stand at the base of a majestic mountain, you’re likely to feel hope for the future. This is especially true if you live in a city — spending time in nature can help you slow down your internal clock, relax and look toward the future in a positive way.
Now, log off, get outside, and enjoy the summer!