According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. But going outside actually has lots of benefits to our mental and physical wellbeing. Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy the benefits of getting outdoors in nature, whether that’s at a city park, by the lake, or in the wilderness.
Benefits of being outside include lower stress, better mood, better focus, and reduced risk of psychiatric disorders. The American Psychological Association says that spending time in nature also has emotional benefits such as increases in happiness, subjective wellbeing, and more positive social interactions. According to the USDA Forest Service, the physiological response to being outside in nature is real, and it is measurable.
Researchers trying to answer the question about how much outside time is enough have found that people who had spent at least two recreational hours in nature during the previous week reported significantly greater health and wellbeing. The two hours could be all at one time or spread out throughout the week.
Where someone lives obviously impacts their access to nature and green spaces. In urban areas, research has shown that cleaning and greening vacant lots – planting grass, trees, flowers – has been shown to reduce overall neighborhood crime by 13% and reduce nearby residents’ feelings of depression by 41%. Nature in densely populated areas has also been shown to affect how people interact with each other, improving relationships with neighbors in areas that have received tree plantings and other greenery.
Check out our Benefits of Getting Outside Toolkit (ZIP), which contains several flyers and an article about getting outdoors. Share this with your members so they can learn more about the benefits of being outside!