The health benefits of being outdoors
Unless you’ve chosen a career as a farmer or a landscape gardener, chances are you spend a lot of time inside. The inclement British weather can quickly ruin our plans to commune with nature, but the numerous benefits associated with being outside make the effort worthwhile.
Not only does this week mark Outdoor Classroom Day, but May is also National Walking Month - so what better time to get moving in the Great Outdoors? Here are just some of the reasons it’s fantastic for your health!
- It’s good for family health
The number of obese children is rising, according to statistics from NHS England. A reduction in physical activity and an increase in screen time is a contributory factor, so it’s more important than ever to encourage children to get outside and play. The idea that being outside is good for children is far from new; in Scandinavia, ‘fruitsliv’, or open air culture, is embedded into early childhood and education, while forest schools - where children attend regular sessions outside in a natural woodland setting - have been established in the UK since 1993.
In addition, Outdoor Classroom Day aims to raise awareness of the benefits of outdoor learning and play, with the movement having identified some compelling benefits, including an increased level of excitement in learning and improvements in children’s behaviours.
- It’s a free way to get fit
Getting outside doesn't have to cost you a penny! Go for a run in your local park, grab your binoculars for a spot of bird watching or take the children on a nature scavenger hunt and make a scrapbook with their findings. An outdoor adventure is a perfect way to make great memories and keep the family entertained for hours.
Walking is the ultimate no-cost activity. As well as being a practical method of transport, it’s also great for your heart. The British Heart Foundation advocates regular walking to reduce the chance of developing a heart condition and to keep healthy.
- It benefits your mental health
Being outside has a positive impact on our health and wellbeing. You don’t have to travel far to benefit from the fresh air; just get out into your garden! In Mental Health Awareness Week, gardening charity Thrive is encouraging people to take up gardening to help relieve stress. Exercise such as gardening releases feel-good hormones including endorphins and improves sleep - not to mention gives a great sense of achievement when your hard work comes to fruition!
- It can improve your physical health
Gardening isn’t just good for the mind, it helps burn those calories! According to research carried out by Saga Insurance, just half an hour of weeding can burn 100 calories and, if you’re feeling super energetic, dusting off the mower and cutting the grass can get rid of around 200 calories. You’ll be toning up and burning fat at the same time.
What’s more, some GPs now prescribe getting outdoors in a bid to help people increase their physical activity and overall health. Rather than following a strict exercise routine, a more social approach, such as joining a walking group, can encourage people to continue exercising for longer.
- It’s good for your brain
According to international organisation The Dementia Centre, exercising can help lessen cognitive decline and improve memory function. Being outside also helps maintain our vitamin D levels and can regulate our body clock, meaning we sleep better too.
Not many people realise that the more active you are, the cheaper your health insurance premiums can be, so getting outside and doing more exercise can benefit your bank balance as well as your health! We have lots of tips and advice in our health and wellbeing articles, as well as all the information you need on the benefits of health insurance, including policies to help protect your family health while you’re out there on your adventures.