In this year of the centennial anniversary of the National Parks, you may be considering spending more time exploring outdoors. The benefits of the outdoors range far beyond enjoying beautiful scenery; from better health to less stress, you reap numerous physical and mental benefits from spending time outside. And, of course, the right gear makes it even easier to transition to an active, outdoor lifestyle.
What are the benefits of active time spent in nature?
You Experience Less Cognitive Fatigue
Research indicates that people who spend time in natural environments experience less mental fatigue. As a 2014 study in Frontiers in Psychology explains, urban environments are full of constant stimulation that demand attention (for example, you pay attention to avoid being hit by a car or pushed off the sidewalk by a cyclist). Unlike urban environments, nature eases cognitive fatigue because it presents less stimulation and allows one to relax.
You Exercise More
You hear from every news source about the benefits of exercise for weight loss, longevity, and overall health. But who wants to spend hours per week in a stuffy, smelly box gym?
Head outdoors for exercise, and you’ll be more likely to turn working out into a lifelong, enjoyable healthy habit. According to this 2011 study in Environmental Science and Technology, “exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy” than compared to exercising indoors.
That’s not to mention that you will probably get a better workout outdoors than indoors. Cardio machines set your pace and assist with movement compared to self-propelled outdoor exercise. When you’re running, hiking, or cycling outside, you encounter uneven terrain and natural elements such as wind that burn more calories and strengthen various muscles.
Your Work Performance Improves
A 2014 study from Stanford University found that walking increases a person’s creativity by up to 60%. While this study concluded that the cause of higher creativity was the act of walking itself, rather than the outdoor environment, other studies point to the positive effect that natural environments have on creativity and productivity.
Nature also alleviates stress and lowers blood pressure
The Outdoors Are Good for Mental Health
A 2007 study in Neuroscience found that mice who came into contact with bacteria from soil such as Mycobacterium vaccae had higher serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone responsible for good moods; an imbalance of serotonin can lead to depression. Scientists believe that humans can receive the same serotonin boost from the bacteria in soil as well, and the best way to come into contact with these bacteria is through regular time spent in nature.
The outdoors not only boost your mood; a 2010 study in Environmental Science and Technology found that time in nature increases self-esteem. According to this study, green environments in particular improved self-esteem levels in men and women alike, and areas with water such as lakes or the ocean boosted self-confidence and mood even more.
You Get Sick Less Often
Whether you spend most of your day in an office, cubicle, or classroom, you know that colds and viruses spread rapidly and frequently during the summer and winter months alike. The combination of fresh air, exercise, and the reduction of stress levels from time spent in natural environments has been repeatedly shown to improve immune system function. Active time in natural environments is one of the best ways to prevent illness, no matter the season.
Why Good Gear Matters
Even though many people know the benefits of active living and spending time in nature, they do not always take advantage of all the outdoors has to offer. The most common excuse or complaint about time outside is discomfort. Water, sleep, shelter, and food are all basic human needs, so of course you expect those while camping or backpacking.
The right gear makes the difference between discomfort and comfort - between having a miserable experience and enjoying the outdoors. If you can make your campsite feel like home away from home - a comfortable mattress pad, a warm sleeping bag, and clean water to drink at your leisure - you are more likely to pursue time outside again and again.
To truly receive all of the benefits of nature, you need to make a habit of active outdoor time. While one hiking trip will decrease your stress levels, you benefit the most of running, hiking, backpacking, or disc golfing when you do it on a regular, frequent basis. The consistency of outdoor exercise is easier when you own functional gear and can start your outdoor adventure at any time - you just have to grab your gear and go.
That is the mission of Gear Well: to provide you with high-quality gear to maximize your outdoor experience. Whether you enjoy an afternoon outside spent disc golfing or a weekend away in the mountains, our gear will make your outdoor experience comfortable and enjoyable - so much so that you would rather be adventuring outdoors than stuck inside.