Spending time outside and enjoying the fresh air is always a good idea for staying both mentally and physically healthy. But these days, with most of us still being sheltered-in-place, it’s more important than ever to make sure to get some green therapy. There are several health benefits that come along with spending time outside, including:
- Reduces inflammation
- Boosts immune system
- Decreases the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the body
- Decreases heart rate
- Improves short-term memory
- Increases mental energy
- Fights off depression, anxiety and bad moods
- Reduces risk of nearsightedness
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves focus
- Boosts creative problem-solving skills
- May stimulate the production of anti-cancer proteins
- Lowers overall risk of early death
Tips for Going Outside Safely
Going anywhere these days takes careful planning and consideration and leaving the safety of your home to enjoy the great outdoors is no different. Keep these tips in mind before venturing outdoors:
1. Choose a safe destination.
If you have a private backyard, it will most likely be the safest outdoor space to spend time in. However, most people do not have a large enough yard to run or walk long distances and even more people do not have their own outdoor space.
2. Avoid touching communal spaces.
Those who live in a multi-family residence, such as apartments and condos, should wear gloves or use paper towels to create a barrier between themselves and surfaces such as elevator buttons, railings, and doors that other residents touch. The same applies when you are outside. Do not allow your children to play on playground equipment and do not sit on benches.
3. Bring supplies.
Carry hand sanitizer, water bottles, snacks and masks with you. Use the masks if you get into a situation where social distancing becomes difficult or impossible.
4. Enjoy the outdoors with your household only.
It may sound harmless to go for a walk with your neighbor or meet your sister at the park, but we tend to keep less physical distance between people we know and it may be tempting to give loved ones a hug.
5. Continue social distancing rules.
The chance of you catching anything from someone as you walk, run or ride by is minimal, but it is still important to follow all social distancing rules—including staying at least 6 ft apart.
6. Practice extra caution.
There’s never a good day to break a bone or need stitches, but today—and every other day during this pandemic—is definitely NOT the day. Avoid taking risks, wear helmets and other safety equipment, depending on what activity you are participating in, and be careful!
Get out where and when you can, soak up that Vitamin D and enjoy yourself! With a few changes to our normal habits, it is still possible to enjoy some “green” therapy!