Get Outside, Like Your Life Depends On It


There is endless research on the benefits of being outside. I’m not even talking about working out, outside, or running outside, or rock-climbing, just literally being outside. And if you really want to up the ante, you can walk outside. Yes, that’s correct, WALK.

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, a famous American architect with artistic contributions right here in Kalamazoo said, “I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day’s work.” This should be no surprise to those whom are familiar with his designs. Well known for designing and building homes AROUND nature, such as trees and even waterfalls! So if Frank thinks it’s a good idea for art, why should we consider the benefits, too? Let’s look at 4 of the most compelling reasons to drop our phones, close our laptops and head into the nearses trail, park, or woods.


Photo courtesy of: Shopia Albine.

1. Sunlight has magical powers.

Wearing glasses sucks, right? Well nearsightedness, or Myopia, (caused by a elongation of the eyeball) has been on the rise in children in recent years and not from sitting too close to the TV (that’s a wivestail). But, researchers at Ohio State University, the Australian National University and at Sun Yat-sen University in China, have found that lack of sunlight is a major cause of myopia. The researchers recommend two to three hours of sunlight (even not very bright sunlight is fine) per day to aid in myopia prevention.


2. Nature reduces stress

David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah, has studied nature’s calming affect on human stress levels. National Geographic reported on his studies and statements, like “Our brains aren’t tireless three-pound machines; they’re easily fatigued. When we slow down, stop the busywork, and take in beautiful natural surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performance improves too.” Additional studies conducted on young adults in Japan further support Strayer’s statement, reinforcing the importance of getting outside to relax.


3. Being outdoors fights depression

Need a pick me up? Maybe that vacation to Chicago was more taxing than relaxing. Researchers at Stanford University found that people who walk for 90 minutes in nature (as opposed to high-traffic urban settings) “showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression” . Additional Stanford research found that those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety, rumination (focused attention on negative aspects of oneself), and instead, experienced more positive emotions, like happiness.


4. Working out, outside makes you smarter??

What if I told you that training outside would improve your reading and comprehension, improve fluency, and make you better at math. Well it’s true. A Finnish study in young adults found that moderate to vigorous activity, is directly correlated to better math, reading, and comprehension skills. On the contrast, people of the same age, living a sedentary life, had poorer skills in both reading and math. Exercise mind and body.


Still need more? Check out this lengthy and thorough PDF.


In Summary