5 Unexpected Health Benefits of Taking a Daily Walk Outside
Walking has a lot of health benefits. It can help you lose weight, increase bone density, and improve your mood.
You can get these benefits from walking anywhere, including on a treadmill. But if you want some added gains, consider taking your daily walk outdoors instead of inside.
5 Reasons to Walk Outside Instead of Indoors
It might not seem like a big difference, but getting outside can reap a whole host of benefits for you mentally and physically.
Here are the top five reasons to get outside every day, even if you only walk a few minutes at a time.
1. Feel better (almost) instantly
Humans are naturally predisposed to thrive in nature and natural environments. Researchers have found that spending just 20 minutes a day outdoors is enough for the body to release stress-relieving hormones that can make you feel better almost instantly.
However, our modern lifestyle leaves most of us spending up to 90 percent of our time indoors. So, taking your walk outside can help you get reacquainted with nature. If 20 minutes is too long to walk, you can still get these benefits by stretching, meditating, reading, or simply sitting still without distractions.
2. Time will seem to go faster
If you’re walking to lose weight, staring at your treadmill screen can make 20 minutes feel like forever. Going outdoors gives you a change of scenery, which distracts your mind and can help your workout feel like it’s flying by.
3. Raise your vitamin D levels
Your body needs vitamin D to build strong bones and a robust immune system. Yet, nearly half of all adults in the U.S. are vitamin D deficient.
One reason for such a staggering statistic is that people aren’t getting enough sun. Our bodies naturally make vitamin D when they are exposed to the sun. So, when we spend most of our time indoors, our bodies don’t have the opportunity to make this essential vitamin.
It’s possible to get vitamin D from a supplement, but just 20 minutes of sunshine a day is all it takes to get the amount of vitamin D most adults need.
4. Enjoy a creative boost
The next time you’re struggling to solve a problem that seems to have no solution, shut down your computer and go for an outdoor walk.
Research has shown that going for a walk outdoors, even a short one, can help get your creative juices flowing, making it easier for you to solve problems when you’re back at the office.
5. Feel the energy rush without the crash
Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee during the mid-afternoon slog, try going for a short outdoor walk instead. Studies have shown that a 20-minute walk outdoors is as effective as having a cup of coffee to increase your energy levels.
Tips for Walking Outdoors
Keep these safety tips in mind before going for your next walk.
Make sure you are visible
Ideally, you will walk during daylight hours. If you are walking when it is dark (or expected to get dark), wear reflective clothing so cars will see you.
Keep others in the loop
Keep your phone with you, and make sure someone else knows your walking plans. That way, if something unexpected happens (you fall, twist your ankle, etc.), someone will know to come looking for you.
Don’t go further than your limits
If you’re new to walking, take it slow and easy. Don’t try to walk 5 miles the first day. It’s perfectly fine to start in short increments. Even a five-minute walk can give you massive health benefits!
Don’t forget to stretch after your walk! If you need more support for your stretching, book an appointment with StretchSPOT.