Outdoor Activities Are More Than Just Fun: They’re Healing

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Time and time again, research has shown the importance of sunshine for mental and physical health. Sunshine gives us vitamin D, which is a mood booster and helps promote physical health. However, there are many other benefits to being active outdoors, as well. 

The benefits of being outdoors extended to social and natural health, as well as general well-being. Also, being active promotes physical health. So, what are the drawbacks? Only getting wet on a rainy day. Let’s look at some of the benefits.

Four Benefits to Outdoor Activities

There is a multitude of benefits to being active outdoors. Some of these benefits cannot be measured and are not known, but there are at least the four following:

#1. Physical Health: Outdoor activity has been shown over the years to be a promoter of physical health. Not only does our vitamin D level increase, but so does our endurance. Also, being active promotes endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Being active promotes healthy metabolism and helps us fight off obesity. It also builds a healthy brain and wards off some neurological disorders.

#2. Mental Well-Being: Spending time outdoors promotes mental well-being in a variety of ways. Doing group sports allows us to connect with others in a fun way. Outdoor activities can reduce the effects of mental illness, as well as prevent mental illness, promote quality of life and life satisfaction. Emotions such as anxiety, depression, rumination over negative events, and anger can be eased by engaging in outdoor sports. With those endorphins and vitamin D, we can’t help but be excited about being our best selves. Plus, we feel better about ourselves and learn that we can do difficult things.

#3. Outdoor Activities Help Us Learn: Learning is one skill that promotes mental health and is a self-care activity that should be done every day. Learning something new every day has been shown to be very effective in promoting positive mental health. Engaging in outdoor activities gets us closer to nature and other people. Being close to nature and other people allows us to learn more. We learn about social interaction and get to observe nature. Being outdoors and getting involved in sports or other activities improves our motor function and our brain function, helping us learn and problem-solve more effectively.

#4. Outdoor Activities Promote Recovery: Engaging in outdoor activities will help us want to recover more and make us more likely to abandon old behaviors as we find new ones. Research has shown that engaging in outdoor activities has helped people quit smoking, stop drinking alcohol, and/or abusing other substances. Spending time outdoors and being active makes many people want to take better care of themselves and the world. Some research even suggests that outdoor activities help prevent crime. Recovery requires dedication, and we might be able to find more of that dedication the more we engage in outdoor activities.

The idea that the more we take care of ourselves, the more we will want to take care of ourselves is very true. People who go to the gym are more likely to drink more water and eat better. The truth of the matter is that the more positive changes we make, the more positive changes we will want to make. 

Engaging in outdoor activities helps promote wellness in a myriad of ways, not just by improving our physical and mental health. Outdoor activities help us learn. Focusing and being committed to recovery and taking care of ourselves and others is another major benefit of outdoor activities. Our engagement shows our commitment to our best selves and we need to be our best selves for our clients. 

Things to Remember

Being outdoors is not just a means of getting vitamin D and those feel-good chemicals. Engaging in outdoor activities helps us maintain our physical and mental/emotional well-being and be more proactive in our lives. Learning is also a positive side effect of engaging in outdoor activities

Getting outside and being active by ourselves or with others brings us closer to our goals of wellness and the futures we desire. Being active helps keep our bodies healthy and heals our brains. Being active outdoors can help manage and/or cure mental illness. With all these benefits, can you think of a reason not to be outside being active?

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a study that covers many different research articles on the benefits of outdoor activity. This study can provide much-needed information to help you fully understand the benefits of outdoor activities on all aspects of your health and well-being, as well as the well-being of your clients. 

Outdoor activities have been shown time and time again to be beneficial to all who engage in them. At Jaywalker Lodge, we focus on outdoor activities to promote all of our clients’ well-being as we help them engage in recovery and in building their best lives. There are many benefits to outdoor activities, and one of the benefits is helping people achieve their best life. At Jaywalker, we believe our clients deserve the future and life they always wanted. We believe in their ability to achieve that life and future. We use outdoor activities as part of our methods to help clients recover from alcohol and/or substance abuse. If one of your clients is struggling with addiction to alcohol and/or other substances, reach out to Jaywalker today. Call (866) 529-9255 today and begin an evaluation for your client’s future. You can help them begin their best life.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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