Photo of a person sitting barefoot in a park reading

Spring is Here: Get Outside to Do Your Mind and Body Some Good

The New York State Department of Health suggests getting outdoors to walk, jog, hike, garden, ride a bicycle or visit a park as healthy ways to stay active and reduce stress and anxiety while engaging in social distancing strategies.

“Research supports what many of us already feel,” said Bruce Naughton, M.D., Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s vice president and chief medical officer for Medicare. “Spending time in nature does our mind and body good.”

Naughton highlights the potential benefits of getting outside:

Protect your bones

Sunlight hitting the skin eventually leads to the creation of vitamin D in your body. It’s good protection against osteoporosis and other diseases. Just 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your bare arms and legs a few times a week is all you need. However, if you’re going to be out longer, be sure to apply a sunscreen with UV-A and UV-B protection, and an SPF of 15 or higher.

Recharges the brain

The demands of everyday life can overtax the mind and body. Time with nature is like connecting to a recharging station, allowing us to better cope with the stresses of life. Our brains don’t have to work the same way to pay attention to nature as they do to focus on a computer screen. The possible benefits of spending time outdoors include a more upbeat mood, increased creativity, improved concentration and reduced stress.

Helps us age gracefully

Older people who get outside regularly stay healthier and function better, longer (source: Studies have shown that those who have contact with nature have fewer complaints of aches and pains, sleep issues, or other health-related problems.

Makes us move more

Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors, so there’s no question that most of us have a sedentary lifestyle. Making an effort to be outside means there is less chance of wiling away hours plopped down in a chair inside. Instead, there’s a greater chance of moving more by puttering in the yard, or walking your dog in the neighborhood.

“I encourage you to make the most of spring by getting outdoors as soon as you can,” said Naughton. “Bring your cellphone for safety but leave the earbuds at home so you can fully enjoy the sights and sounds as the world around you blossoms and blooms. Connecting with nature will do your brain and body good.”

New York state is currently waiving all park fees in state, local and county parks. Click here to FIND A PARK.

For more information on how to practice social distancing while enjoying the outdoors, visit the New York State Department of Health website.

Erika Gruszewski

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