7 mind blowing data driven reasons you should be spending more time outdoors

The great outdoors is called the GREAT outdoors for a reason. In addition to the fresh air, peace, and beauty people experience from spending time in nature, there are also immense mental and physical health benefits to gain. 

As we’ve mentioned, people living in Blue Zone regions live longer and healthier than the average person and benefit from spending time outdoors and connecting to the natural world. We may all be able to attest to the fact that we should spend more time outside in general, but we want to shed some very important light on 7 data driven reasons for taking advantage of the GREAT outdoors (yes, they’re pretty great). 

1. greenspaces and slashing schizophrenia

A recent groundbreaking research study at Aarhus University in Denmark found that people who grew up surrounded by green spaces and nature are 50 percent less likely to develop Schizophrenia than people who grew up in urban areas. Out of a sample size of more than 940,000 researchers found that people without access to green areas within 200 meters of their home were at greater risk for developing the illness. This impact on our well-being is hypothesized to be related to the clean air, peace, and greenery that those who grow up in rural areas are exposed to in contrast to the bustle of city life.

2. nature improves short term memory

Interacting with nature is shown to improve short term memory. In a research study at the University of Michigan and and cognitive ability, two groups of participants were randomly selected to participate in a 50 minute walk in either downtown Ann Arbor or in an Ann Arbor park and asked to complete a brief memory test before and after the walk. After the walk, the group who took a walk in the park did almost 20% better on the test than before the walk and those who walked in the city did not consistently improve.

3. nature boosts creativity

According to research, people who were immersed in nature for four days boosted their performance on a creative problem solving task by 50%. Researchers hypothesize that this advantage comes from increase in exposure to natural stimuli and decreased exposure to attention demanding technology.

4. exposure to the natural environment reduces inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to harm or injury, repair damaged tissues, or protect itself from invaders like bacteria or viruses. But, when inflammation goes into overdrive it’s associated with autoimmune disorders, depression, and even cancer. However, spending time in nature might be a way to reduce any inflammation the body is exposed to. 

In a research study on elderly individuals, one group was sent to an evergreen forest for 7 days while another group was sent to a city area for 7 days. Blood pressure indicators and cardiovascular related pathological factors were indicated in participants before the trip. Results showed that participants exposed to the forest environment showed a significant reduction in blood pressure compared to the city group. This demonstrates that exposure to the natural environment reduces inflammation and might help prevent cardiovascular disease.

5. nature helps relieve stress

Increased stress is another activator of inflammation, but again, nature can help reduce stress in individuals! In a Japanese research study, it was found that levels of cortisol significantly reduced in the group that spent two nights in a forest environment versus those who spent two nights in a city environment.

6. spending time outdoors can increase longevity

A common characteristic researched among people who live in Blue Zone regions, is their connection to the natural environment and their emphasis on getting outside.  Longevity is at the core of the Blue Zone concept and research by Dan Buettner shows that exposure to nature is helping people who live in these areas live longer and healthier than the average person.

7. spending time outside may help improve vision

This one might be less expected, but spending time outdoors from a young age can actually help improve vision and reduce the risk of developing nearsightedness. A group of about 2,000 12 year old students were studied– Some of which spent more time outdoors and others who did not. It was found that those who spent more time outdoors had a lower prevalence of nearsightedness. 

Have we convinced you how great the great outdoors are yet? Step outside and start reaping the benefits of Mother Nature!

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