by Marisa M. Tomasic, PhD | Photography by Katherine Clark

Lovers of the outdoors already know the power of nature in promoting relaxation, harmony, and inner peace. It really comes as no surprise to most of us that being outside connecting with nature is uplifting and energizing. What you might not realize, however, is that science is backing up what we already know, the great outdoors has the capacity to fix, or at least improve, much of what ails us. Researchers in the areas of emotional health and well-being investigated the ways in which nature works to lessen stress, reduce anxiety and promote greater happiness.

Research continues to document the positive role that exercise plays not only in our physical health, but in our mental health and overall well-being as well.

Choosing the outdoors as the setting for our physical activity appears to offer some exciting and noteworthy health benefits.

According to Prevention, taking our exercise and other daily activities outside is a great way to experience these perks. The article further cites the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology’s finding that participating in five minutes of outdoor physical activity can supercharge our mood. Imagine only having to spend minutes in order to reap quality rewards.

Additionally, Fortune points to a study conducted by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies which suggested that better physical, mental and brain health are promoted by vacationing or residing near parks and green areas, which has implications for urban planning and development. The Harvard Health Letter shared several top reasons for getting outside and experiencing nature, including:

  • Higher levels of vitamin D produced from sunlight exposure, which can promote better physical and mental health
  • More movement and physical activity, also associated with improved physical and mental health
  • Enhanced mood
  • Better focus and concentration
  • Speedier recovery from certain surgeries

North Carolinians, as well as visitors and vacationers to our extraordinary state, are fortunate to be surrounded by the majesty of a multitude of state and national parks within its borders, including Carolina Beach State Park. There’s plenty of time left this year to get out, get moving and take in the splendor and health benefits of what our park system has to offer. Perhaps the arrival of summer will inspire us to connect with the outdoors and be our healthiest selves.

 

Dr. Tomasic, a licensed counseling psychologist and freelance writer, can be reached at tarheeltwin2@yahoo.com