Why spending time outdoors is essential

Whether it's a grand adventure or a humble walk in the woods, being active outdoors is the best thing for your health and happiness - here's why.

Spending time outdoors is essential

Sure, you could argue we're biased on this one - TimeOutdoors is, after all, founded on the principle that being active outside is a fundamental part of being the best version of yourself. We're far from alone in that belief, though. In fact, over the past decade there has been a growing consensus that standing up, getting away from a screen and moving in the great outdoors is one of the best decisions you can make.

What are the benefits?

It's something that we imagine everyone has experienced at some point: feeling stressed out, for whatever reason, then taking some quiet time outdoors and feeling...refreshed. Not like all your problems have gone away but calmer and more able to deal with them.

That restorative effect that being in nature can have is well documented. In one study by Mind, 95% of people interviewed reported feeling more calm and balanced after spending time outside, with fewer feelings of anxiety or stress. In fact, in one landmark study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology over 30 years ago, patients in hospital were found to recover faster when they had a view of natural scenes rather than urban ones.

Time in nature is good for mental health
Spending time in nature is proven to benefit your mental health.

What's more, being active outdoors yields even greater benefits. Aerobic exercise, i.e. movement that raises your heart rate but is sustainable at a steady pace, like jogging, walking, cycling and swimming, was proven to help reduce anxiety and depression. Innovative research published in Extreme Physiology & Medicine found that combining these effects with a green environment could be a powerful tool in dealing with modern ailments associated with being inactive.

Being outdoors helps to suppress the stress hormone cortisol, which contributes to all sorts of modern ailments, from anxiety and depression to heart disease and poor sleep. Taking the time to step outside and breathe fresh air can help to reduce our overall stress levels - of course it is not going to solve those health issues on its own, but you'll certainly be taking a step in the right direction.

Is there a catch?

Studies like this have been repeated again and again with the same result: spending time outdoors makes people feel calmer, less stressed and generally healthier. For those who value being in the great outdoors, it simply validates what they already knew. There are many of us, though, who find making the time to get outside difficult or overly complicated. In the frenetic pace of 21st century life, surrounded by artificial lighting, screens and plastics, finding opportunities to escape into the outdoors can feel impossible.

It is clear, though, that the benefits of spending time outdoors far outweigh the cost in time and energy of getting out there. Even 10 minutes of gardening or walking around the block will help to feel calmer and less stressed; setting a goal to enter an event and training for it in the great outdoors will prove even more beneficial.

Joining a club helps you to get active outdoors
Joining a club can go a long way to helping you make time for being active.

As with any goal, the key is not to find time but to make it. Prioritising being active outdoors could involve reducing the amount of time spent doing something else - if that's simply scrolling on TikTok, then hopefully the decision is an easy one. However, you may need to reduce something more substantial in order to increase your time outdoors. The benefits of doing so, as listed above, are myriad. Whether or not you choose to take that leap is a different question.

It's why we've made finding opportunities to be active outdoors as easy as possible. From local clubs to epic events, we've got thousands of listings on our website and you can use our advanced search tool to find ones that are perfect for you. Even better, we've built a custom map so you can see exactly where these opportunities are, as well as non-event features like walking trails, summits and forests, allowing you to plan your time outdoors independently.

Spending time outdoors is not always easy in our modern lives but it is always beneficial. We will continue to do everything we can to make sure that being active in the outdoors is as simple as possible - see you out there.

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