Whether or not you choose to weather the weather outside may have important health consequences. According to a number of studies, our modern sedentary lifestyle is very bad for us. So even though it’s winter, and there are papers and exams to worry about, think about getting away from a screen for a while. The following is a list of positive things that will come from making some time to be outside today!
You’ll Make More Vitamin D
Research has demonstrated that Vitamin D is key in preventing conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis, heart attacks, and depression. Exposure to sunlight helps your skin kick-start the Vitamin D production cycle. Especially in the winter, it is important to make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D, which can help increase your mood and your overall health. By all measures, average Americans don’t have enough Vitamin D in their bodies. Being outside for a few minutes helps, but if you can’t make it outside , consider increasing your intake of Vitamin D rich foods (like milk, salmon, eggs, or fortified orange juice), or even taking a Vitamin D supplement. But remember, if you are exposed to sunlight for a prolonged period of time, wear sunscreen to prevent getting sunburned!
You’ll Get More Exercise
Sitting indoors is the least challenging thing you can do with your body, so every minute you can do ANYTHING else is a minute well spent. Going for a walk around campus, tossing a Frisbee, taking a bike ride, or simply moving your study session to another building are all easy ways to spend more time outside and move more.
You Might Heal Faster
University of Pittsburgh researchers reported in 2005 that spinal surgery patients experienced less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications during their recoveries if they were exposed to natural light. Windows and views are different than actually being outside, but we’re betting that adding a little fresh air to the equation couldn’t hurt and might even help.
You Will Concentrate Better
Research performed on children with ADHD indicates that children seem to focus better after being outdoors. The same could be true for adults. Getting outside to take a “brain break” and get some light exercise can help you stay focused when you return to work.
You Will Be Happier
There is a reason why people willingly give up all the comforts of home to go camping: it’s fun, enjoyable, and relaxing to be outdoors. Natural light has been proven to increase mood, as has exercise. Now, research is being done on “green exercise”, or exercise in a natural or outdoors setting, to see the immediate effects it has on mood. While the research isn’t conclusive, if you know that being outside will make you happier than sitting around inside, do it!
What Are You Waiting For?
So those are 5 great reasons to spend some time outside. Thankfully, we have an amazingly beautiful campus at UNC, even in the winter. Get outside and enjoy it today!