With the rapid advancements in technology, nearly everything can be done in the comfort of your own home. You can buy groceries without stepping outside, communicate with friends and relatives through a screen, and even work in an office just inside your house. Although technology definitely offers convenience and efficiency, it also has its downsides. For instance, it keeps you indoors. The necessity of stepping outside is increasingly being overlooked. Here are some of the reasons why going outdoors is very important for you.
Unlike most vitamins and nutrients, vitamin D is not that easily obtained from food since only a few naturally contain it. Mostly, people get their vitamin D requirements from sunlight. After all, vitamin D is “The Sunshine Vitamin.”
When UVB from sunlight reaches your skin, it modifies the cholesterol stored in your skin from the food you’ve eaten into vitamin D3. This vitamin then travels through your bloodstream until it reaches the liver where it is then turned into the pre-hormone calcifediol. Calcifediol, or calcidiol, once again travels through your bloodstream until it reaches the kidneys where it is turned into the biologically activated compound calcitriol. This activated vitamin D then helps absorb calcium from your food thereby promoting bone growth and strength. Thus, without sufficient vitamin D, your body will suffer bone demineralization leading to diseases such as osteoporosis. Aside from bone growth, vitamin D also promotes cell growth, neuromuscular function, and immune function while reducing inflammation.
The only way to get vitamin D from the sun is through unprotected exposure, that is, without sunscreen. To avoid skin cancer while getting vitamin D, limit your unprotected exposure to about 10-15 minutes before applying sun protection.
Reduce Stress and Improved Mental Health
Several studies show that being exposed to nature is a great way to relieve stress. One of the reasons for this is the scent of most flowers and trees. The scents of jasmines, roses, and lilacs, for instance, have been proven to lower stress levels and increase relaxation. The scent of fresh pine was also shown to lower depression and anxiety. Fresh air from the outdoors also helps in reducing stress.
Studies also show that nature, in general, can lift people’s moods. People who live around or closer to nature were found to show more activity in the regions of stability, empathy, and love, while people around man-made environments such as in cities were found to show more activity in the regions of fear and stress.
Basically, nature has a therapeutic effect on the body which not only reduces stress, but also increases energy levels while promoting memory performance and prolonging attention span. Being outdoors will also ease depression and improve your outlook in life.
If you’re indoors, chances are, you’re sitting down. Studies have shown that longer sitting time is linked to the development of certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes and certain cardiovascular diseases. Also, increased sitting time was shown to have a strong correlation with mortality. This means that the more you sit down, the greater your risk is to die prematurely.
Being outdoors also inspires you to move. You’ll find that it’s easier and more enjoyable to exercise outdoors.
It was also found that being outdoors can strengthen your immune system. This is thanks to vitamin D as well as your body’s natural way of developing a defense against infectious viruses and bacteria. Spending time in nature was also found to reduce inflammation which is associated with various illnesses including cancer. A study showed that students and patients who spent time in the forest had lower or reduced levels of inflammation compared to those who spent time in the city.
Even just a few hours outside or a weeklong trip in nature can have a great therapeutic and healing effect on your body so consider taking some time away from a screen and away from the comfort of your home to explore the beauty of nature.