A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Get outdoors for better health and mood

African American couple walking their bulldog - Getting outside improves health

Spending time outside exploring your community is an easy way to improve your mood.

Most people spend the majority of their time indoors working, caring for their families and sleeping, even when the weather is nice. Though you may be busy, getting outside is important for your physical and mental health.

“The benefits are person-dependent, but generally people are more active, healthier and in a better mood when they can spend time outside,” said Dr. Nathaniel Stepp, a Marshfield Clinic family medicine physician.

6 benefits of spending time in the great outdoors

1. More chances to exercise

Many people say walking is their preferred workout, but they don’t exercise much in the winter months when it’s too cold or slippery to stroll outside. When the weather is nice, don’t miss out on the health benefits of walking. Schedule a time to walk your neighborhood with friends or drive to a park or nature center with walking paths.

2. More vitamin D

“Vitamin D supplements are useful when days are short and there is little sun, but they don’t have quite the same effect as direct sunlight,” Stepp said.

The skin makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Our bodies need vitamin D to absorb calcium to build strong bones.

3. Reduced seasonal affective disorder symptoms

Spending time in the sunshine can help with seasonal affective disorder, or the blues that some people experience in fall and winter. Symptoms of depression tend to lessen in spring and summer when there is more natural sunlight. Getting outside can help jumpstart the process.

4. Better mood in general

Spending time outside can improve your mood even if you don’t have seasonal affective disorder.

“Most people say they feel happier and less anxious when they’re outdoors,” Stepp said.

5. Make community connections

Enjoying outdoor activities in your area and meeting your neighbors helps you feel connected to your community, which is good for your mental health.

6. Less screen time

Stepping outdoors and away from your TV, cellphone or computer reduces stress, helps you sleep better and improves focus. Consider leaving your cellphone behind or turning it off when you’re enjoying the outdoors.

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  1. Jul 7, 2018

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