health

 Nature’s Impact on Your Overall Wellbeing

Mikayla Borchert

Benovate’s Expert Blogger

Mikayla Borchert

Benovate’s Expert Blogger

How Spending Time Outdoors Can Positively Impact Your Physical, Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

Have you ever noticed a difference in your mood as the seasons change? Many of us feel happier and healthier during the warmer months, and while more physical and social activities play a part in that summertime upswing, there’s something a little less obvious to thank: nature. Simply spending more time in the sun has a huge impact on your overall wellbeing, even if you don’t work up a sweat.

Go Green

According to a University of Exeter study of approximately 20,000 people, just 120 minutes of outdoor time each week can significantly levels of physical and emotional wellbeing. The two-hour rule remained consistent across different genders, ages, ethnic groups, occupations, socioeconomic statuses, and ability levels. If you can’t set aside two hours at once, don’t worry; the number is cumulative. Breaking it up into 15 to 20-minute chunks for each day of the week works just as well as 120 minutes at once. Whether you take your dog for a walk, sit in your backyard alone, or visit an outdoor festival with friends, you’ll surely feel the impact of nature.

The hustle and bustle of everyday life can lead to an abundance of stress, resulting in impulsiveness, distraction, and irritability. The American Psychological Association (APA) says that nature can help relieve these feelings. The best part? You don’t need to drive hours away from home to enjoy increased wellbeing. In fact, just a green view from a window can have a positive impact. One study showed that “office workers with a view of nature liked their jobs more, enjoyed better health and reported greater life satisfaction.”

The APA also notes a study of patients recovering from abdominal surgery that showed those with green views from their hospital window recovered more quickly and required less pain medication than those whose view lacked nature. However, nature’s appearance isn’t the only thing that impacts our wellbeing. Enjoying the quiet found in the outdoors is a great way to cleanse your body and mind.

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Personalize and Satisfy

So, if you’re looking to improve the way you think and feel, it’s safe to say that spending more time in nature will help you get results. How can you find the right outdoor setting for you? First, think about what motivates you. When you exercise or spend time outside, do you look for excitement and challenge? Health benefits? Social time? Confirmation from others? These are just a few common motivators, and none are wrong. Knowing your goals will help you choose activities you enjoy.

If you crave excitement and challenge, try learning a new recreational sport like climbing or rowing. Many towns have community programs or businesses with classes for all ages and ability levels, and you could even sign up with your family or friends.

If the health benefits are more up your alley, look into “yoga in the park” or local running trails. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, completing your regular exercises outside can increase your level of satisfaction and your results.

Taking the workout out helps your mental and emotional wellbeing too. If you just want to laugh with friends while enjoying nature, look into intramural sports or outdoor festivals. In Minneapolis, where Benovate’s office is located, there are city-run kickball leagues and Open Streets, where hundreds of people come together to pet dogs, support local businesses, and walk for miles. Check online to see what your neighborhood has going on this summer!

Many of us love to feel competition, approval, and connection from others. If that sounds like you, try training for a 5K or bicycle race. Many of these events are to raise money for charities, and people often start training groups. You can help a cause you care about, support and be supported by fellow participants, and compete, all while exercising outdoors. If teamwork is more your style, consider starting an office softball team. Getting outside with coworkers could even improve your work culture.

And of course, even a lazy day at the beach or strolling through a park can do wonders. While getting enough exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle, so is getting enough time to relax. Enjoy some quiet time to yourself or with friends, but move it off the couch and get outdoors whenever possible.

Whatever your interests and goals are, getting out into nature can help you get there. So even if it’s just parking farther from work or walking to the mailbox, add those minutes to your week. Your mind, body, and overall wellbeing will thank you for it.

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