Our View | Step outside over spring break

The warm weather and sounds of birds chirping indicate that the weather is finally starting to warm up. After a short lived winter, temperatures are soaring into the mid 50s and bringing with it birds and flowers. 

Cold winters are commonly the root of seasonal depression, where the lack of sunlight takes a toll on many people’s mental health. Exposure to the sun provides numerous benefits that improve mental and physical health. 

Going outside and being with nature helps to relieve mental fatigue. In fact, one study revealed that just looking at pictures of nature greatly boosts mental energy. Taking time before school for a quick walk with friends is just one way to increase your time in nature. 

Another mental benefit from spending time outside is stress relief. Many studies show that spending time outside lowers levels of the hormone cortisol in the brain. This hormone is widely associated with stress levels. Even taking time during the day to sit in front of an open window can provide some of these benefits as well. 

Another way to spend more time outside is to take a ride on one of the many beautiful bike trails in Cedar Falls. Getting active is a great way to keep healthy, and there’s no better way to do it than surrounded by the outdoors. Spending time in nature has also been proven to reduce inflammation, which helps to reduce the likelihood of multiple illnesses. With flu season still lingering, it’s important to support our immune systems by doing all we can to keep healthy. 

An additional added benefit of exposure to nature is improved short term memory. Going on nature walks multiple times a week have been proven to improve short term memory. This is just one of many benefits of walking outdoors. 

As we start to enjoy the nicer weather, it’s important that we go outside and actually enjoy it. Sitting inside for long hours has multiple consequences in regard to physical and mental health. In fact, only being inside for days at a time has been linked to insomnia, anxiety and depression. 

It’s an easy problem to fix. Try going outside at least once a day. Maybe this means parking farther away from school to enjoy a morning walk. All of us should try to increase our exposure to nature to boost our mental and physical health. This will provide so many worthwhile benefits while giving us an excuse to spend more time with friends and family. 

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