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We Are Wired to be Outside

A new book on why nature makes us happier highlights what most of us already know: Being outside not only is good for us, but makes us feel good in an almost inexplicable way. As explained by National Geographic, our brain’s “feel-good” alpha waves grow stronger when we’re outside — or even when we’re exposed to plants inside.

Research shows that Americans spend 87 percent of their time in enclosed buildings and 6 percent of their time in enclosed vehicles — that’s a total of 93 percent of your life spent inside. There are many reasons why this is unhealthy, so it might be time to open your windows, even in winter, and let the outside, in.

However, actually GOING outside has the best benefits, including boosting your creativity and focus while improving your mood and self-esteem. Spending more time outside also can help you optimize your vitamin D levels and promote wellness and healing. Better yet, exercising outdoors leads to greater energy exertion and lower levels of stress than exercising indoors.

There’s something inherently healing about spending time outdoors, for kids and adults alike. Part of it has to do with exposure to natural light, but a side effect includes less pain and better sleep. If you’re really wanting more energy, take your shoes off and get “grounded” by walking barefoot.

For children, regular play outside helps boost cognitive development: One study showed that children exposed to green spaces, particularly while at school, had improved working memory and decreased inattentiveness.
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