Is Exercising Outdoors Better for Your Health?
It’s the start of Summer here at SolRx. And while it may seem inviting to take our workouts outdoors, the intensity of the sun can be an adversarial element that makes indoor exercise more inviting.
Combined with energy-zapping heat, dense city smog, and an increased concern about carbon emissions, it can seem like a safe alternative to hop on the treadmill or jump in the pool. But at the end of the day, is indoor exercise actually better for one’s health?
In short, no. No it is not. There have been a number of studies that show exercising outdoors is actually better for your health. Combined with our passion in keeping you protected from the sun’s harmful rays, below we shed light on why outdoor exercise is better for your health.
Outdoor Exercise for Emotional & Mental Health
While it may seem obvious that outdoor exercise improves physical health, studies have shown that getting outside can also boost mental and emotional health. In fact, a study led by scientists at Stanford revealed quantifiable evidence that walking in nature could lead to a lower risk of depression.
The study discovered that people who went for a 90 minute walk in a natural outdoor setting (as opposed to those who walked in a high-traffic urban environment) showed significantly lower activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.
According to Gregory Bratman of Stanford, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban settings, and that’s forecasted to rise to 70 percent within a few decades. Just as urbanization and disconnection from nature have grown dramatically, so have mental disorders such as depression. In turn, taking a hike may be the best prescription for depression.
Mood-Boosting Benefits of Sun Exposure
In addition to the physical and emotional benefits of exercising in nature, individuals can also experience a dramatic boost in mood by getting outside on sunny days. Sun exposure is one of the most potent ways in which we absorb vitamin D, which is vital for both physical and mental health.
Studies have shown that exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet light triggers the production of serotonin, a hormone that lifts mood. Low serotonin is associated with depression – particularly seasonal affective disorder (a form of depression that’s often experienced during the winter months when there is less sunlight.) The same lull feelings from a lack of sunlight may occur in individuals who are constantly cooped-up indoors.
Enjoying the benefits of exercise and recreation means getting outside and active, but also feeling the mood-boosting effects that stem from exposure to sunlight. Just remember to use a broad-spectrum sport sunscreen to ensure you stay protected.
Exercising Outdoors to Combat Mesothelioma & Cancer
Mesothelioma is a devastating and incurable form of cancer. For patients diagnosed with mesothelioma it means facing mortality, in addition to adapting to changes in one’s physical abilities, relationships, and overall self-sustainability.
According to an article at Mesothelioma.net, “all of this comes together to reduce a cancer patient’s quality of life and this can have a big impact on mental health. Cancer patients are at an increased risk for developing depression and anxiety and for experiencing stress, fear, and other negative emotions on a regular basis. It is important to be aware of this risk and to notice the signs of depression, either in yourself or a loved one, so you can get help and treatment.”
From medications to therapy, there are a number of tools to help fight the battle against cancer and seek relief from depression. However one of the most accessible and powerful strategies is to stay active outdoors and feel the effects of natural sunlight.
In any event, exercising outdoors is often better for your health than staying inside. Going back to nature, getting healthy exposure from the sun, and putting your body in motion can be the best form of therapy available. Just be conscious of the harmful risks at play when stepping out in the intense summer sun, and choose the right type of sunscreen to ensure you’re protected from both UVA and UVB rays.
Image by Sport Box