Great Outdoors

Did You Know … Outdoors


Spending time outdoors has many health benefits, including a healthier immune system.

If you aren’t getting out, you’re missing out.

Really missing out.

It’s easy to discuss all the sights there are to behold when venturing away from the addictive quality of electronic devices. But there are many reasons for an individual to cut the cord and suffer from periodic symptoms of EDSA, or Electronic Device Separation Anxiety.

Forgive the acronym, but it was fun to make it up.

Truth is, dependency on electronic devices continues to rise and fewer children are venturing outdoors. Games of kick the can or tag appear to have gone the way of the dinosaur.

This seems to be in contrast to the theory of Harvard biologist Edward Wilson that humans are drawn to their natural surroundings. Today, however, children suffer from nature deficit disorder and many believe diminishing time spent outdoors denies youths an opportunity to grow.

Frightening stories on the news may lead some to believe being indoors is safer than out, but there’s no proof to suggest this is true. In fact, the benefits far outweigh the possibility of a skinned knee or twisted ankle.

There’s no set of rules for how a child can interact with nature, giving them the power to establish their own guidelines, which helps build confidence. In addition, when a child is outdoors, creativity grows as they figure things out on their own.

The level of stimulation for the brain when outdoors far exceeds what a child can attain playing a video game. This may seem in stark contrast to the mayhem in many video games, but the sights, sounds, and smells in nature send the brain into overdrive because all the senses are engaged.

As for overall health, spending time in the great outdoors requires movement and gets the blood pumping, which improves overall cardiac fitness.

Stress is also reduced when outdoors. In a 2009 study, stress at home was reduced after just a short walk.

But those are the obvious benefits.


Particulates in forested areas help boost the human immune system.

Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency indicate many air pollutants are worse indoors than outdoors, so isolating a child with asthma or allergies may not be in their best interest.

Consider the ash from a fireplace in the winter, not to mention chemicals in cleaning supplies and furniture, as well as dirt, mold, and pet dander.

Ever been told by mom not to sit so close to the television because it’s not good for your eyes? She may have been on to something. The natural setting is much easier on the eyes and those who spend more time outdoors are less likely to suffer from nearsightedness.

And that doesn’t include the benefits of vitamin D, which is provided naturally by the sun. However, the amount of time humans spend inside means they aren’t getting enough of the naturally occurring nutrient.

Low vitamin D is viewed as a pandemic in the United States with one study indicating up to 75 percent of Americans not getting enough.

Yet it’s free if we just take the time to get up and get out.

Low levels of the vitamin is associated with a number of diseases, including heart problems, Alzheimer’s, depression, and there is some preliminary research tying the condition to autism.

Still not enough to get you up and out? It is cold and flu season and being outdoors boosts the immune system. Turns out the natural particles in forested areas improve your ability to fight off disease.

If that’s still not enough, how about simply feeling happy?

Getting outdoors improves the level of serotonin in the brain, which is the chemical reaction that makes people feel good, and the level of serotonin is tied to the amount of sun we get.

And this holds true regardless of the season.

Happy trails.

If you didn’t know, now you do.