A lot of us work 9-5 desk jobs, fewer and fewer people are spending their work day outdoors. When we get to leave the screens and florescent lights behind let’s take advantage and get outside of our little boxes.
Here are 5 reasons to play outside as much as possible:
- Increased Vitamin D – The sun supplies us with our best source of Vitamin D. About 30 minutes of direct sun to skin contact will give most people the amount of Vitamin D needed. “Vitamin D deficiency has now been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain, and other maladies. These studies show that people with higher levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of disease, although they do not definitively prove that lack of vitamin D causes disease — or that vitamin D supplements would lower risk.”
- Improved Mental Health – Stepping outside for some fresh air does a lot for stress levels. As we take in a serene forest scene, majestic mountain views, or listen to the waves crash on the shore the feeling we get is hard to beat; ahhh, peace. That sense of oneness with the earth and nature can erase a bad day in moments. Sunlight can help improve mood as well. Serotonin levels in the brain actually increase on days with more sunlight. “Of the approximately 40 million brain cells, most are influenced either directly or indirectly by serotonin. This includes brain cells related to mood, sexual desire and function, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behavior.”
- Decreased Eye Strain – Staring at a screen all day can be detrimental to eye health. A lot of us spend 7 or 8 hours a day looking at a computer and then head home to watch TV or have a good Netflix binge, this is terrible for our eyes. “Computer Vision Syndrome, also referred to as Digital Eye Strain, describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use.” Get out, look at the beauty in the distance, watch a sunrise or sunset and let the natural light in.
- Better Sleep – “If you want to get good sleep, you have to have properly aligned circadian rhythms. If you don’t, the varying aspects of your waking/sleeping system will be working at the wrong time. Insomnia is a common side effect of an improperly timed circadian clock. You’ll also end up being sleepy during the day. Worse yet, it can have a significantly detrimental effect on your brain function and ability to perform at school and work.” “Studies show that natural sunlight helps set our body’s internal clock that tells us when to eat and sleep, and normalizes hormonal functions that occur at specific times of the day. People need to receive about 30 to 60 minutes of exposure to direct sunlight for sleep patterns to improve”
- It’s FUN! – We have so many beautiful treasures right outside our front door: lakes, mountains, forests, pastures, beaches. Play has been scientifically proven to be good for the brain; it teaches us to use our imaginations and delays mental decline in old age. Frolic in the waves, build a sand castle, go for a walk, run, bike ride, or hike, get out and soak up the sun!
So unplug and go play outside. Leave the cellphone, tablet, or e-reader at home; let the sun hit your skin and get an eyeful, earful, and mind full of our big, beautiful world!
Back in Motion Physical Therapy – South Portland, Maine