By Sydney Janssen | Photo by Patil Khakhamian
Colorado College students are stereotypically considered outdoorsy. There’s truth to the assumption, as when you walk around campus it is common to see students studying outside, hammocking, or slacklining. Many people also take trips and spend their weekends outdoors. During quarantine, it can be a challenge to find as much time now to get outside, but research has shown that spending time outside offers many health benefits.
For example, spending time outside reduces stress. Goodnet’s article “10 Unexpected Benefits of Spending Time in Nature” says that only five minutes in nature can help reduce stress levels. Additionally, exercising outside has also been shown to decrease stress. A minimum of 15 minutes in the sun allows our bodies to absorb vitamin D, which helps to make our bones stronger, while decreasing the risk of cancer, diabetes, and more.
Spending time outside, where there is natural light, also helps regulate our bodies’ natural sleep schedule, promoting better sleep. Research has also shown that time spent outdoors, especially if it’s sunny out, can help strengthen our immune systems, which helps us stay healthy and allows us to fight diseases, ailments, and viruses better. Another benefit is increased happiness. Studies have shown that time spent outdoors promotes mental well-being. This benefit can be even greater if you spend time outdoors doing an activity that you love.
Research has also shown that spending time in nature improves short term memory. A study from the University of Michigan showed that students who regularly went outside for nature walks were better able to retain information. So, studying outside could be a great way to help retain what you’re learning, and you would get all these other benefits too.
Another study showed that people who spent a little time each week walking through the woods had lower levels of inflammation in the body. Reducing inflammation lessens an individual’s likelihood of developing several disorders and diseases, including depression and cancer.
Spending time outside can also help improve vision. The blue light from screens can cause eyestrain, so a break from this for some natural light outside gives the eyes a chance to rest and recover. Goodnet’s article also talked about an Australian study, which suggested that children who spent time outdoors had a reduced risk of developing myopia, or nearsightedness, later in their lives.
Science also concludes that time outside inspires creativity. Nature has so many details to observe, such as changing colors and various forms of life. Paying attention to the physical environment promotes curiosity.
There are countless benefits of spending time outside. While it may be harder to get outside as much during quarantine to reap these benefits, even a little bit of time outside each day can have lasting impacts and promote well-being. No matter how busy someone is, even a few minutes outside can be a nice way to unwind and take a moment to clear your head.