Freshen your life with time spent outdoors How getting outside can help improve your life in both long-term and short-term endeavors

BREATHE IT IN — Being outside can help all of us gain a fresh start and boost our overall well-being. So take some time to walk around a park, go for a nice hike, or even just sit in a hammock. There are plenty of things to do outside. Even cross-country skiing for snowy days. (Rockwood Manor)


Lately, the sun has been shining around Hope College’s campus. More and more people are  starting to run outside again and  shedding the heavy winter layers. Although snow could hit  again at any point because we live in Michigan, there are many perks to soaking up the sun while it’s here and finding time to spend outdoors even in the chillier months of the year.

One of the things the outdoors can do for you is increase  your motivation while exercising. The University of Essex  did a study of cyclists pedaling in front of different colors and found that green was less likely to cause mood shifts and felt  better in their workouts. Basically, green is good, so the trees,  grass and other beautiful parts  of nature can actually help motivate us to enjoy that long run a  little more.

What else is good about that crisp spring breeze? Getting outdoors can benefit your brain, too. That’s right. Your memory can improve if you spend time walking outside rather than in  concrete jungles. The University of Michigan put this theory to the test by having participants do a memory test and then walk in either their arboretum or through the city street. Those who walked in the nature-filled arboretum did an average of 20 percent better on the post-walk test.

Even kids with ADHD did some testing that showed that  kids who had been playing outside after school were shown to  have less symptoms. Boost your creativity or even get an energy boost from 20 minutes outside.

Plus, why not de-stress by  taking a few nights in the woods? Those who spent some time in  nature were found to have lower levels of cortisol, which is a  stress hormone. Plus, it’s tough to sit in a place of nature and not feel calm. A light breeze on your  face and the clean scent of freshly cut grass are sure to boost  your mood and remind you to take that deep breath.

When the weather really  warms up, maybe try some outdoor yoga, which can often be  found at parks or museums with  outdoor lawns. The environment is not only calm but rejuvenating and worth the hourlong stretching session.

Another interesting fact about spending time in the great  outdoors is that it can also reduce inflammation. There are a  lot of not-so-great things associated with inflammation, like  autoimmune disorders and even depression, but different studies have shown that time outdoors can help reduce the amount of inflammation in our bodies.

Plus, who doesn’t want to soak up a little extra vitamin D? We actually need this, and just a little time in the sun can soak up as much as you need. Plus, some  research suggests that time outside may help with vision, so  why not get a little sun?

So what are you waiting for?  Get outside and enjoy the beautiful sun while we’ve got it. Try  a fun outdoor activity or go to a beautiful place around Holland.

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