It doesn’t need to take long and you do not need to go far from home to enjoy the many benefits of getting outdoors. Studies show that just 30 minutes of walking or cycling each day in a green or open space, for example a park or local woodlands, can boost your physical and mental well-being.
Consequently, spending more time outdoors and in wider, more rural landscapes can have even greater health-giving advantages. These benefits, such as taking a short mid-week or weekend break to enjoy a walking or cycling trip, have been shown to have a longer lasting effect, even when you get back to your daily routine.
1 Improved fitness: Whatever activity you plan to do outdoors there will be physical fitness benefits. If you go walking or cycling you will improve your cardiovascular fitness, tone muscles, boost your circulation and lose weight.
2 Mindfulness: It has been shown in various studies that being outdoors for at least half an hour daily can reduce your chances of depression by up to 50%. Exercising in a green and rural environment also leads a general sense of improved well-being and a recharging of your batteries.
3 Sunshine and smiles: Although the sun sometimes gets a bad press because it can cause sunburn and, in extreme cases, skin cancer, there are benefits to feeling the rays on your skin. Vitamin D levels are boosted by the sunlight and this is essential for healthy bones. The sunshine also helps people to feel an enhanced mood and energy.
4 Greater confidence: Doing something challenging outdoors will lead to boosted confidence levels. Try climbing for the first time, white water rating, wakeboarding, a new walking route or a cycling tour. You might need to plan ahead to achieve these goals – and overcome a few fears – but the sense of achievement will be great for your confidence.
5 Boost creativity: If you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with a brilliant idea, take a walk outside. A study found that walking increased 81% of the participants’ creativity, but walking outside produced more unique and innovative ideas.
6 Mid-week feeling: Try every once in a while to go outdoors when most other people are stuck at their desk in the office. You could take a short mid-week break or book a day off work and escape to an outdoors place. There is something uplifting about walking, cycling, running or flying a kite on a beach on a day when normally you would be working.
7 Amazing experiences: The great outdoors offers opportunities to spot wildlife, see breath-taking views, walk to the summit of a mountain, ride a long-distance cycling tour, spend time with friends and family. You are far less likely to enjoy any of these experiences if you stay at home staring at a screen.
8 Family bonds: Research reveals that families that spend time outdoors together are better at communicating with each other and form long-lasting relationship bonds. You could plan a family hike, go wild camping or enjoy a regular mountain bike ride together.
9 Meet new people: Lots of people meet while enjoying and sharing in outdoors activities. You are far more likely to click with someone who likes the same things as you, such as walking, climbing, cycling, surfing or skiing. If you are looking for new friends or the love of your life, try joining a club or a group tour or trip.
10 Long-lasting memories: Memories are made of great outdoors experiences and if you take lots of photos and store them in a safe place you can give yourself a happy boost any time you look back at them.
This post was originally published in July 2016.