The Great—and Healthy!—Outdoors

Psychologist and Entrepreneur in Residence Dr. Lauren Hazzouri shares the health benefits of having fun in the sun.

From Lauren:
Research tells us that there are numerous physical and emotional benefits to spending time in nature. While those benefits don’t end when school begins, the warm weather and relaxed summer schedule make engaging in outdoor activities much easier. Here are five reasons to get outside and soak it all in before it’s too late. The Great—and Healthy!—Outdoors

Vitamin D is more important than you thought

Researchers indicate that nearly 95% of us are vitamin D deficient, in part because we’ve been trained to load up on sunscreen and limit our sun exposure to decrease skin cancer risk. Recently, it’s been recommended that we take in 15 minutes of sunlight before applying sunscreen, as vitamin D is important for our immunity and has been said to prevent many diseases. Balance is best.

Sleep doesn’t only feel good—it’s essential

Our sleep patterns are regulated by our circadian rhythms, which are tied to the sun’s schedule. Spending too much time indoors, due to anything from work schedules to travel, can impact our circadian rhythms. To combat the negative effects, get outside. Within a couple of days your circadian rhythm will have corrected itself, and you’ll be dozing off with ease.

Getting fresh air can keep you from getting sick

Indoor air pollutants are said to be up to 62% more damaging than outdoor air pollutants. Take advantage of nice days by opening the doors and windows in your office and at home; the cross-ventilation will improve indoor air quality. Still, nothing beats getting outside and indulging in deep breaths of fresh air, so take breaks and get out there. The Great—and Healthy!—Outdoors

Exercising outdoors packs a double-whammy

We all know that exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle—the physical and emotional benefits of exercise cannot be overstated. Exercising outdoors is found to be even more beneficial than indoor exercise, because you must exert more energy outdoors to accommodate for weather and terrain. Exercising in nature has been shown to boost the benefits in mood and self-esteem that come with a good workout, big-time.

You'll boost your creativity and focus

One study shows that a walk outside increases creativity by 81%, so if you feel like you’re thinking and nothing’s happening, get outside now! In addition, children and adults with ADHD who spend a lot of time outside are better able to focus, as compared to their counterparts, who spend the majority of their time indoors. It’s a great way to increase attention levels before the start of school.

To maximize our time outside and keep it enjoyable, we need to think outside the box (no pun intended!). Of course, we all love a good nature hike, stroll in the park or trip to the playground, but it can get old fast. We have difficulty thinking of novel, fun things for the kiddos (and for us!) to do outdoors. Here are several ideas for making the most of these last few weeks before Labor Day.

 The Great—and Healthy!—Outdoors

Create an art walk using bed sheets

Grab your kids (and the neighborhood kids, too!), several white bed sheets, markers and finger paints, and let them paint to their hearts’ content. That evening, invite their parents and other passersby to see the display. Not only will you and the kids get the health benefits of being outdoors all day, but you will have created an opportunity to be proud of your kids all night!

Take the bake sale door-to-door

It’s always fun to bake with the kids on a rainy day and sell your goods outdoors when it clears up, but this time, bring the baked goods to the neighborhood, rather than waiting for the neighborhood to come to you. It’s especially nice to hand deliver sweets to the elderly who might be indoors alone all day.

Make it a potluck picnic in the park

We all have to eat dinner, so why not alert the group chat that tonight’s potluck night? Bring frisbees, nerf footballs and plenty of treats to make this weekend one to remember.

Make a backyard art exhibit

Have the kids make art outside and turn your backyard into an outdoor gallery. Use several laundry lines and old-school laundry pins to display the children’s art in the backyard. Invite the neighbors (that you’ve been meaning to have over!), friends and family to join you for a “gallery opening.” For a special touch, hang twinkly lights and serve wine and cheese to the guests. With these tips, you’ll be healthier, happier, more focused and more creative by Labor Day. Have fun in the sun!


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