I’m Rodger Douglas and I treat fibromyalgia with homeopathy. I use a body mind approach that revolves around simple and healthy living.
health benefits of the great outdoors
People seem to know instinctively that spending time outdoors is a good thing. But, with our modern lifestyles, where we spend most of our time inside staring at screens, we’ve become detached from nature. Here’s a quick quiz to give you a rough idea of how connected you are to nature:
Did you spend more than 4 hours outdoors this week?
Did you spend more than 3 hours in nature this week?
What local fruits are in season?
Which local flowers are blooming now?
If you are at home now can you point to north?
What time is sunrise and sunset?
What phase is the moon in?
What constellations will be above you tonight?
If you answered “no” to most of the questions it’s probably time to reconnect with nature.
benefits to spending time outdoors
1. walks in nature help your memory
In general, exercise is great, but one study from the University of Michigan showed participants who took a memory test and then walked in nature did 20% better than those who took the test and then took a walk around the city.
2. you feel happier
According to one Finnish study, spending just 15 minutes sitting in nature helped people feel psychologically restored. Those results were even faster when they spent that time walking.
3. nature can heal
One study shows that people exposed to more natural light healed faster from a spinal surgery and reportedly had less pain than others. It seems nature served as a natural drug for them, because they also took fewer pain medications.
4. you can concentrate better
Taking a break in nature can improve your concentration4 by giving your brain a well-needed break. Leave your phone behind and let your mind unwind from the overstimulation so common with modern, busy life.
5. it prompts weight loss
Being outside may not be a magical diet pill all by itself, but it does tend to make exercise more enjoyable. What’s more, some aspects of outdoor exercise like hiking may help you lose weight in an unexpected way. Spending time at higher altitudes can speed up your metabolism and lower your appetite.
6. your vitamin D supply improves
Spending time in the sun helps your body create vitamin D—a vitamin that studies have shown may help prevent cancer, osteoporosis, and heart attacks.
7. nature limits your stress
Being in mother nature, even if just in your own neighborhood, can reduce stress in the body. Studies show spending time outdoors can lower your heart rate—a symptom of stress.
8. you age less painfully
Want to age gracefully? Going outside every single day may be the key. One study showed 70-year-old participants who spent time outside every single day had fewer complaints of common aging pains (e.g., aching bones, not sleeping) at age 77 than those who didn’t.
9. it strengthens your immune system
A Japanese study showed women who spent six hours in the woods over a two-day period increased their white blood cells, which fight virus, and the boost lasted about a week after the experiment.
10. it lightens feelings of depression
As shown above, being in Mother Nature heals you in so many ways—including your mental health. Multiple studies have linked nature walks with improved mental health.
In the 1980s Japanese researchers began to uncover the health benefits of spending time in nature. They found that it lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and anxiety, strengthens immunity, and improves concentration, short-term memory, energy, mood and sleep.
Forest bathing (shinrin-yoku in Japanese) is simply walking slowly and mindfully through a forest or other green area to ease stress and other negative emotions. Friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv) is a combination of the Norwegian words for “free,” “air” and “life.” In Nordic countries, friluftsliv is a way of life with people spending time outdoors, doing activities such as hiking, camping or skiing.
Earthing, also called grounding, is a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth. Basically earthing is putting the body in direct and uninterrupted contact with the earth. This means that skin needs to touch soil, sand, water, or a conductive surface that is in contact with the earth. From a scientific perspective, the idea is that the earth has a mild negative charge to it.
what the science says
Grounding is a relatively new field of research so there is a small but growing body of scientific research on the topic. One study examined the role of grounding on post-exercise muscle damage. Researchers used both grounding patches and mats and measured creatine kinase, white blood cell count, and pain levels before and after grounding. Blood work indicated that grounding reduced muscle damage and pain in participants. This suggests that grounding may influence healing abilities.
This research is supported by a recent studyTrusted Source on grounding for pain reduction and mood improvement. Sixteen massage therapists alternated between periods of grounding and no grounding.
ways to ground yourself
There are many ways you can reconnecting to the earth. This can be done through either direct or indirect contact with the earth.
Walking barefoot. One of the easiest ways to ground yourself to the earth is simply to walk barefoot. You can do this on grass, sand, or even mud, allowing your skin to touch the natural ground can provide you with grounding energy.
Lying on the ground. You can increase your skin-to-earth contact by lying on the ground. You can do it in the grass by the park or on the sand at the beach.
Submersing in water. Water may be used to ground in the same way the physical earth is used for grounding. Swim or wade in a lake, river or the ocean. Be sure to stay safe when swimming, especially in murky or deep waters.
Grounding equipment. If going outside to ground yourself isn’t an option, there are alternatives. One method of earthing involves connecting a metal rod to the ground outside and then connecting the rod to your body through a wire. Another method is to use grounding equipment such as grounding mats, grounding sheets or blankets, or grounding bands and patches?
Why use grounding?
There’s not much research on the benefits of grounding. However, people have reported improvement for conditions such as:
Chronic fatigue. In the studyTrusted Source on massage therapists, many reported a decrease in their fatigue levels after four weeks of treatment with grounding mats.
Chronic pain. The studyTrusted Source on grounding for exercise recovery found that those who used grounding patches reported lower pain levels.
Anxiety and depression. In one small studyTrusted Source, it was shown that even 1 hour of grounding therapy can significantly improve mood.
Sleep disorders. The massage therapists also experienced an improvement in sleep length and reduce sleep disturbances with grounding therapy.
Cardiovascular disease. Results of one treatment study found that long-term self-administered grounding therapy helped to reduce blood pressure levels in participants with hypertension.