Spending time outdoors may not get quite the fanfare as popular health crazes like Jazzercise, juicing, or kale, spending time outside in nature has enormous health benefits. It just doesn’t have any Hollywood spokespeople to build up the brand. In fact, spending time in the Colorado outdoors, whether boating, biking, four-wheeling, hiking, or even picnicking is great for a person’s well-being physically, socially and mentally. Here are some of the health benefits of being outside and how you can reap them.
- Vitamin D absorption can reverse symptoms of depression
- Outdoor exercise is proven more effective than indoor exercise
- Socializing outside can promote a special connection with your friends and family
- Making a deeper connection to nature under the tall mountains
Soaking Up Sun Rays
Sunlight on the skin initiates a process which leads to the creation and activation of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, promote bone growth/healing, improve immune system function, and disease prevention. Exposure to sunlight is also thought to increase the brain’s release of the hormone serotonin – a hormone associated with improved mood function. Participating in outside activities, especially on sunny days in the winter, may help prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression more common in winter months. Sunshine is dose respondent, meaning that too much can cause problems. So be sure to get sun on your skin for a few minutes, but wear sunscreen and cover up your skin if you’re going to be exposed all day.
Another health benefit of being outside is that exercise feels more like play than a chore. Research shows people burn 10% more calories when they walk or run outside than they do when they walk or run at the same pace inside. The distractions of the surroundings take one’s mind off the challenges of the exercise. Outdoor exercise can be yard work, playing with your kids or dogs, or going to the trails or river.
COVID-19 made the whole world familiar with social distancing and the relative safety of outdoor gatherings. But there is good reason outside activities boomed in 2020. Spending time outdoors is an adventure that can be shared with family, friends and colleagues. Accomplishing a challenging hike, jeep trail, or shared trip down the river helps promote a special connection and sense of shared purpose. Shared outside experiences are energizing, great stress reducers, and help promote self-confidence.
A Natural Connection
Simply put, being outside is hardwired into us. It’s the reason you can’t help but stare in wonder at the Sawatch Range or tumbling Arkansas River here in Buena Vista. Being outside is an inherent opportunity to connect with nature and stimulate all five senses. Breathing in fresh air and basking in natural light promotes an interconnectedness with nature. Spending time in nature or close to water promotes a special serenity and peacefulness.
Spending time outdoors is good for us! We see the benefits first-hand every single day and it’s one of the reasons we love what we do here at The Adventure Company. Stepping away from the every day grind and playing outside can help you feel recharged and connected. There are real health benefits of being outside physically, mentally, and socially. So go outside, play, and tell us how you feel!
If you want to get outdoors with some of our experienced guides down some of Colorado’s best whitewater, send us an email or give us a call so we can find the best trip for your group!