How Being Outside Can Vastly Improve Your Health
Growing up I was outside a lot as a child.
Part of that had to do with living in a state like Nebraska where the weather’s pretty nice from mid-April to late October (not too hot, not too humid), and another part of that has to do with the fact that I was obsessed with soccer and so I was playing outside as much as I could to help advance my career.
Now, a few decades after my days on the soccer field and running around the flatlands of Nebraska, I find myself wishing I could be outdoors more and encouraging kids to get outside more.
All because there’s a real power to use the outdoors to improve our health.
This article is going to cite some of the research around how the outdoors can help to improve your health.
From how getting more vitamin D-3 from the sun can help to boost immune function as well as improve mental health… to how grounding can help you draw from the energy flowing through the earth…and even how the great outdoors can help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety.
The bottom line is if more people spent time outside, and less time hunched over in front of screens, we’d be much healthier as a society.
4 Ways Being Outside Can Help to Improve Your Health
It’s hard to deny that being outside on a beautiful sunny day is about as “good as it gets.”
Especially when life’s tough and you can sit under the sun and watch clouds go by and forget about the troubles of this life.
I believe, personally, that the created world was made by God for us to appreciate and to enjoy and the intended consequence of spending time outdoors is to revel in our creator’s work and to experience the benefits of his creation.
My beliefs aren’t borne solely out of religious convictions, I should add.
There’s more than enough scientific evidence to show that being outside is positively wonderful for your health.
1 - It Can Help With Anxiety:
Millions upon millions of Americans are anxious. Honestly, it’s hard not to be anxious when you consider how much is going on in the world.
And, how the media incessantly focus on it and tries to make it seem like the sky is falling 100% of the time.
The good news here is that being outside can help to ease that anxiety.
When you’re outside, not only are you free to focus on something other than what the media wants you to see, there are benefits that nature imparts to us that help to ease anxiety.
Now there’s plenty to support being active and outside is important to maximize these anti-anxiety benefits, however, there’s more than enough research that shows you can feel better, think better, and “exist better” as a result of being outside without having to do anything physically rigorous.
For example, in 2014 a team of researchers discovered that life satisfaction and self-esteem improved as a result of being more connected with nature.
And a similar study from 2011, demonstrated that there was a direct causal relationship between psychological well-being and how connected one felt to nature.
When I say “connectedness” here that simply means a person is in nature, experiencing it in person.
In 2016 researchers writing for the Journal Health Psychology found that connection to nature (Nature Relatedness) was significantly correlated with lower levels of overall anxiety, state cognitive anxiety, and trait cognitive anxiety. In that same study, they were able to show that the same connection “significantly predicted lower anxiety levels, thereby establishing an important link between Nature Relatedness and anxiety.”
That’s impressive and is certainly a wonderful reason to consider venturing outside as often as possible.
Especially given that the world we live in “feels” like it’s spiraling out of control.
2 - It May Help Prevent Diabetes and Heart Disease:
Chances are most people have never once thought that the time they spend outdoors could in some way influence the development of disease.
But, as some research has shown, there’s a good chance if you get enough time outdoors then the chances of developing diseases that kill millions fall dramatically.
The journal Environmental Research conducted a meta analysis of 103 observational and 40 interventional studies investigating how access to green spaces (what we would consider parks), and or the “outdoors”, and how that affected health.
The totality of the studies they were reviewing was incredibly significant and involved 1000s of hours of research.
From their review, they concluded that being outside did the following.
- Lowered stress hormone levels
- Lowered heart rate
- Lowered blood pressure
- Increased HRV (heart rate variability)
- Decreased risk of preterm birth
- Lowered the chance of developing type 2 diabetes
- Reduced the risk of developing cardiovascular disease
- Lowered the risk of hypertension
- Improved stroke-reduction risk
- Lowered asthma rates
There aren’t any drugs that I know of that can do all of that - and for FREE no less.
3 - Reduce Your Risk of Being Exposed to Environmental Toxins
This might come as a surprise to you, but pollution and the toxins it contains are more of a problem inside than outside in the great outdoors.
This is especially true if you live in a dense urban area.
In urban centers outside pollutants are often vacuumed out of the air directly into buildings where you’re forced to breathe air that could kill you.
Being outside gives you access to clean air, and the farther away from a car exhaust pipe or industrial smokestacks you are, the better….
There’s adequate evidence to show that indoor pollution is some of the worst because it’s both highly concentrated and you never are free to get a breath of fresh air. Some estimates indicate that indoor air pollution can be 5-10x worse than what you breathe outside (but not what you’d breathe in the pristine air of the “great outdoors.”)
If you’re able to get outside with some regularity it means that you’re reducing your exposure to these harmful chemicals and that can be a huge boon to your health.
4 - Being Outside Gives You Energy
I believe that one of the key reasons to get outside more is to harness the power of the earth and its various “electrical energy fields” and to absorb it into your body.
I know that sounds very mystical when I say that, and how could a Christian doctor ever claim that it’s OK to tap into the earth’s energy.
Well, to put it bluntly, this is actually one of the most scientific concepts out there.
The earth is basically a giant antenna that is picking up the sun’s rays. Those rays are sent to the earth in the form of electrical impulses and when it lands here it’s either stored in the crust of the earth or used as energy for activities like plant growth… or solar energy.
That energy/electricity circulates throughout all of creation and if you are able to put 2 bare feet on the surface of the earth, whether that be grass, sand, rocks, or what have you, then you are a conduit of that energy and can absorb it and then be powered by it.
This is called grounding.
Of course, grounding does have some limitations. You can’t just ground forever and refuse to eat or sleep and expect to maintain perfect energy.
However, research into this pursuit certainly does seem to indicate that this is something the majority of civilization could turn to in order to improve health.
As the Journal of Environmental and Public Health states:
“It is an established, though not widely appreciated fact, that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. The Earth’s negative charges can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems which may be important for setting the biological clock, regulating circadian rhythms and balancing cortisol levels.”
And a study by the journal “European Biology showed through a randomized double-blind study of 58 people (with 30 acting as a control) that grounding was able to reduce symptoms of stress.
Will You Go Outside More Now?
What I’ve written here is just a sampling of available scientific evidence and how being outside can improve your health.
The question is will you try and get out more now that you’ve read this?
I hope you will.