It’s easy to spend most of our lives indoors in this technological age that we now live. But if you make an effort to get outside you are opening the door to a range of health benefits, both physical and mental.
Here are just a few of the physical health benefits that can be gained from being outside.
When we are inside for long periods of time, our eyes don't get the chance to look long distance. Like any other muscle in the body if you stop using your eyes to focus on things in the distance your eyes become weak and susceptible to myopia. Make sure you go outside every day and use your eyes to focus on middle and long distances. Regular trips outside during a work day can also stop you from developing Computer Vision Syndrome which is linked to eye strain and loss of long distance vision.
It’s one of the few vitamins we can’t get from food, so we rely on the sun to supply us with enough vitamin D to help protect against some cancers, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, osteoporosis and macular degeneration. During the winter months, you need more time in the sun to provide enough vitamin D than you do in summer. Wear a short sleeved shirt to get some extra rays of winter sun.
When you’re outside, you are more likely to be physically active. If you need to stay close to home, do some gardening or walk around the block. If you have more time, drive to a new location and explore the area on foot.
When the weather is warm, you can visit the beach and go for a swim. In winter it’s easy to use the weather as an excuse not to leave the house, but Australian winters are mild enough that we can still play sport and exercise outside. Invest in some waterproof clothes if you don’t want to get wet.
More Australians every year complain of anxiety and high-stress levels, but there are simple steps you can take to look after your mental health.
When you are busy or stressed at work, it’s easy to think you don’t have time to leave your desk. However, going outside and taking a short walk will allow your stress hormone levels to return to normal. By getting the blood circulating you will go back to work more energised and able to get through the afternoon’s workload more easily. A stint outside will give you a different perspective which often helps us solve problems and think more creatively. Just the smell of flowers and trees has been shown to decrease stress and shift people towards positive moods.
Plan to take a holiday that involves the great outdoors. Go camping or hiking, so you are forced to spend time outside and away from TV screens. A week or two in the outdoors lets you reconnect with nature, take in some new sights and forget about work.
Often the time spent at home with the family isn’t quality time. You are busy with chores and individual leisure activities that there isn’t much interaction with each other. By leaving the house, there are fewer distractions. Decide you will spend an afternoon doing an outdoor activity such as riding your bikes, visiting a park or going for a bush walk. You can enjoy the regular quality time together making memories and improving your relationships.
HIF Healthy Lifestyle
Check out HIF’s Healthy Lifestyle Cover which allows you to claim a benefit on weight management programs, gym memberships, exercise physiologists, health assessments and much more.