By: Frances Ereñeta (Bacolod City)
“What did you do over the weekend?”
“Wanna hang later at my place?”
“Sure…after we do a little shopping”
Sometimes no matter how much you make plans, you just find yourself in the mall…again. Well, who could blame you when convenience says you can hear mass, watch a movie, carry out bank transactions, relax in a spa, eat at a fancy restaurant, pay the bills, and experience riding a gondola at the same place all in one day!
For those who feel like everyday should be a “no shower day”, staying in for Netflix and chill seems to be the best option. I hate to break it to you, but staying indoors most of the time means missing out on health benefits only you can gain from the outdoors. Here are five reasons why:
1) It Lowers the Risk of Obesity
In 2011, a study conducted by Katie Webster from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, found that the outdoor environment encourages physical activity among children simply because there is more space to move.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there is a 70% chance that an obese child will grow up to be an obese adult so it is important for parents to organize regular physical activities for the family outdoors to prevent obesity. Instead of having Sunday lunch at the mall, why not make the effort to have lunch with a view? Make reservations in mountain park or resort restaurants where the family can do fun activities after eating. Who knows maybe all it takes is your first horseback riding experience to ensure a healthier future for you and your family as you unlearn habits prone to weight gain together.
2) It Promotes Mental Well-Being
The need to look out of the window after finishing a tedious task at work or maybe wanting to step out of the room for five minutes after a heavy discussion just to “breathe”, might have something to do with nature.
Based on a study published by the Oxford University Press, the mere act of looking at nature was found to improve psychological state, aid recovery from stress, and reduce mental fatigue. This is because looking at nature does not require much effort and directed attention which in extreme cases are the main causes of mental fatigue according to Stephen Kaplan of University of Michigan. Little did we know that the short breaks we sometimes neglect when pressed for time, could restore our mental capabilities. Maximize this benefit by joining eco-farm tours. You’ll definitely be intrigued by how your local farmers grow your favorite fruits and vegetables. Maybe you’ll even be interested in growing your own organic farm.
3) It Prevents Vitamin D Deficiency
I know some of you purposely avoid the sun for various reasons but allow me to convince you why the sun should not be treated like an ex from a bad break-up.
Based on the study of Nair and Maseeh in the Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics, 50% of people worldwide are affected by Vitamin D deficiency (VDD). The lack of Vitamin D in the body may cause abnormalities in bone metabolism, skeletal deformities, and muscle weakness. Lucky for us that sunlight, the main source of Vitamin D, happens to be for free. Be thatray of sunshine by encouraging your friends to break from your usual routine. How about swimming for a change? You get a healthy dose of Vitamin D while at it. So don’t think twice about skipping the gym for a good swim.
4) It Boosts Academic Performance
Parents, heads up! There is no need to cancel that camping trip you’ve been planning to give your kids more time to study because spending time outdoors could boost academic performance.
Results of a study on 16 elementary school children in Ontario, Canada show that grades 3 and 6 students who attended schools with green grounds exceled more in province-wide standardized tests than those who did not. Researchers theorize that this may be due to the stimulating variables found in outdoor environments that spur imagination, necessitate problem-solving skills, and enhance creativity. To the teachers reading this article, you now have another reason to schedule field trips and conduct classes outdoors. After all, a change of environment may be the secret ingredient needed to make students more attentive and more eager to learn.
5) It has Restorative Potential
It’s common to feel drained after a really long day. Good thing the outdoors has a natural way of recharging our bodies through sound. According to a review from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, natural sounds such as flowing water, chirping of birds, and blowing of wind are preferred by people over anthropogenic sounds like the blowing of horns, pounding of steel, and ringing of phones. Now we know why spa music relieves stress because sounds from nature as a preference have restorative potential.
Make it a point to drop by the park on your way home from work or at least once a week so that you get your much needed “me time”. Don’t feel like being alone? Then you should gather your friends and family for a get-together out of town away from the stress.
Life may not always give you the luxury of choosing where to spend most of your day in but when you do get to choose, keep in mind the health benefits of spending time outdoors. Don’t miss out on these natural gains.