Top 11 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Outdoor Recreation
Unlock the power of outdoor recreation! Discover 11 proven health benefits of outdoor play in a world of screens, both for kids and adults.
It’s no secret that the health benefits of outdoor recreation can be immense. In a world full of screens and distractions, spending time outdoors has never been more important.
We will use this article to touch on the key health benefits of outdoor activities, citing various studies and findings along the way.
The 11 Health Benefits of Outdoor Recreation
The benefits of outdoor recreation can be life-changing. We speak from experience when we say that many lives have been changed by simply spending more time getting your body moving outdoors.
The information below has been proven scientifically in verified research by reputable sources.
1. Improved Cardiovascular Health
Any type of outdoor activity, whether it be walking, cycling, or trampoline jumping, will provide a boost to your cardiovascular system.
According to a study by Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett and Andy Jones, outdoor walking groups were found to significantly improve body fat percentage, heart rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
2. Muscle Strength
When you engage in outdoor recreation, you are stimulating muscle growth and development.
For children, outdoor activities can be crucial to strength development as they are growing. Also, activities like swinging on a swing set help with balance and coordination.
Continuously training your balance is important not only at a young age but also as an adult. As we get older, our chances of suffering an injury from a fall increase and being active can help mitigate the loss of muscle mass and endurance.
3. Strengthens Immune System
Immune system health, particularly for young children, is critical. Daily opportunities to play outside result in fewer sick days from childcare (a plus for both kids and parents).
Kids are more likely to play outdoors than indoors, and moving your body gets your lymphatic system flowing. Your lymphatic system helps protect against viruses and infections, and it’s a primary physical health benefit of outdoor recreation.
4. Vitamin D Intake
Everybody hears, “You need vitamin D!” but why is it so vital to a healthy lifestyle?
Vitamin D, most naturally consumed from the sun, results in (among other benefits):
- Healthy bones.
- Inflammation reduction.
- Immune system support.
- Decreased chance of heart disease.
- Regulated mood.
- Appetite suppression, which could help with weight loss.
5. Better Sleep Quality
Studies have shown that viewing sunlight in the morning, even for five minutes, helps improve our circadian rhythm, which is crucial for quality sleep.
Additionally, time outside in the morning has been shown to improve the sleep quality of college students, when sleep is extra necessary!
Spending time outdoors in the morning could also set the stage for a great day since outdoor play is associated with an enhanced mood state. It can also establish a routine of going outside every day.
6. Stress Reduction
Outdoor play decreases cortisol levels: cortisol is a hormone that affects many things, including the regulation of your body’s stress response. High cortisol levels are associated with higher levels of stress.
A study conducted in 2019 by Frontiers found that 36 urban dwellers significantly dropped their cortisol levels by simply being outdoors three times a week for 10 minutes or more.
7. Enhanced Mood
In addition to decreased stress, “happy” brain chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins can be released during outdoor recreation activities.
Regularly accessing green spaces is linked with lower depression levels and improved focus, according to UC Davis Health.
8. Cognitive Development
There are many benefits of outdoor recreation in mental health, including cognitive functioning.
This is especially important for children. A Harvard Study proved that outdoor play improves executive function in children. This means improvement in key skills such as planning, troubleshooting, negotiating and multitasking.
A child’s senses also develop by being out in nature. The sounds of birds chirping, or the rustling of leaves triggers the senses of young children and helps sharpen them.
In a world full of sensory exposure, developing from an early age is crucial!
9. Social Bonds
Being a part of a community is an unheralded aspect of life. Research shows that you thrive more when you have multiple people to fill various emotional needs in your life.
Joining a walking group or outdoor fitness club can not only fortify your physical health but also create a sense of belonging by associating with a group of like-minded people.
10. Communication Skills
Tying into that last benefit of outdoor recreation, being outdoors in a group setting aids in your communication abilities.
Being able to collaborate with others is an essential part of life. For children, playing on the playground or participating in youth sports promotes teamwork and sets the foundation for good communication skills in the future.
11. Limits Screen Time
Screens are everywhere nowadays, and too much screen time can lead to issues such as obesity, irregular sleep, behavioral problems and impaired academic performance, according to the Mayo Clinic Health System.
Limiting screen time is crucial for all of us, and participating in outdoor recreation is a fun way to stimulate your mind without a smartphone or computer.
Is Trampoline Exercise the Right Outdoor Activity for You?
Outdoor recreation is beneficial for both your mental and physical health. But what outdoor activity would get you or your kids excited to spend time outside?
Some don’t think of outdoor trampolines when it comes to being active outdoors. However, you might want to consider it, since trampoline jumping has proven to be more efficient than running and is a timeless way for children to get active.
Check out the articles below to see if a trampoline can satisfy your outdoor recreational goals: