For the last few decades, society has become more and more sedentary. The average adult is expected to work a 9 to 5 job locked away in an office, sitting at a desk in front of a computer, barely standing up during the workday, and then going home to try to unwind on the couch before going to bed. Even those who can actually make it to the gym on a daily basis are only spending about 6% on their days being active.
The result is sedentary humans with all sorts of problems stemming from living life sitting down and even depression, anxiety and increased stress. As evolved as we are, turns out we still need to get out and enjoy the sun and some fresh air to be at our best even if it doesn’t fit our schedules. At the risk of sounding like a technophobe, spending all of your time (free or otherwise) sitting down in front of a screen will harm you even if you don’t see the side effects right away. In the long run, you get a slower metabolism, lose flexibility, and increase your chances of getting depressed or anxious. So yeah, spending your entire life lounging in a couch sounds really comfortable, but in reality, depression and a host of physical problems will start sneaking up on you if you don’t actually get out and lead a more active life. For starters, it’s been proven that walking even for just half an hour a day can help you lose weight, reduce your blood pressure, increase endurance and pulmonary fitness. But that’s just the beginning, keep that up as part of your daily life and you are looking at a much healthier you.
The Unexpected Benefits
Though weight loss is the most obvious side effect, there’s a lot more to it. Being exposed to nature is amazing for a host of reasons that go beyond just dropping a few pounds. It’s mandatory for your overall physical wellbeing and will play a key role in your mental health.
Physical Health: Stress has a way of manifesting in the body without you even noticing. It makes your heart rate go up while it lowers your cortisol levels (aka. Your stress hormone). Something as simple as spending your afternoon in nature can reduce them both significantly. And since spending time in nature requires movement and physicality, it can provide fun and enjoyable exercise for those who hate the gym.
Mental Health: So that stress hormone that we talked about? It turns out when it’s high you are more prone to feel anxious and even depress. Naturally, decreasing can fight some types of depression and improve your overall wellbeing which helps you cope when anxiety from daily life starts creeping in. Something as simple as walking through a forest or near a stream of water can help you feel instantly calmer. What’s more, outdoor activities can also help you fight mental fatigue, which is a fancy way to call that foggy feeling everyone gets once in a while. If you have a foggy brain more often than not, it might be time to start going on nature walks on the daily. You’ll feel sharp, alert, and with more energy to go through your daily life. The thing that makes all this so great is that you don’t have to say goodbye to your regular life and move to the forest for good. You just have to incorporate more outdoor activities into your routine to rip the benefits, think about going for a short walk on your lunch break or maybe ditching your staycation plans and renting a cabin for your next break.