What Exercise and Being Outside Can Do for Your Health

Dec 18, 2022

Our bodies are like batteries. Every so often, our charge starts to run a little low. After all, life has many challenges that can tire us out quickly and leave us yearning for our pillow and a good night’s sleep. Did you know there is a way for us to recharge our mental and physical battery when it gets drained? You can renew your energy, refilling your physical, emotional, and spiritual batteries with a simple lifestyle change: incorporating exercise and getting out in nature.

Exercise and Nature for Health

One of the best ways to recharge your mind and body is through regular exercise and exposure to nature. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day has been shown to improve mental health. About the same amount of time in the sun can make you feel good and improve your mind and body.

The mental health benefits of exercise are well-known in the medical, psychological, and scientific fields. Exercise and time in nature have consistently been shown to improve the health of the brain and increase cognitive ability.

Physical activity is also a great way to manage stress. Working out can help your muscles to relax. Movement allows the muscles to work out any tension from the day. Especially in winter, finding ways to get active and beat the blues that come with shorter days and longer nights is essential. 

Get Motivated to Move

The United States Department of Health and Human Services has outlined guidelines for Americans regarding physical activity. For older adults, HHS recommends:

Move More During the Day and Sit Less

Sometimes you have to sit, but it is important that you try to get up and move around. Even if you work where sitting is necessary, try to get up and take a walk every so often. Even a little physical activity is better than none at all.

30 Minutes to One Hour of Exercise

Adults should get about 30 minutes to one hour of exercise daily. That equals about two-and-a-half to five hours of physical activity every week. However, you don’t need to do intensive cardio to get the exercise you need. You can work steps in every day by taking the stairs instead of an elevator or by walking to the mailbox instead of picking up the mail in your car.

The more exercise you do, the better it is for you. Even though the recommendation is 30 minutes a day, doing more will increase your health benefits. Exercising beyond one hour of moderate activity a day is excellent for the body and the mind.

Strength Train

Adults should also strength train. Muscle-training activities are a great way to relieve stress and help you to be healthier. Your body burns fat with less effort the more muscle you gain. This reduces the chance of health risks, including cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. 

How Exercise Affects the Mind and Body

Exercise and prioritizing physical health are great ways to improve the quality of your life. Did you know that most people at risk of chronic disease often report sedentary lifestyles? Doctors have long known that increasing physical activity leads to better physical and mental wellness.

Aerobic exercises have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Some examples of aerobic exercises include:

  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Walking
  • Gardening
  • Dancing

When you engage in aerobic exercise, several physiological changes contribute to improved mental and physical health. Blood circulation increases, resulting in an increase of blood oxygen to the brain and increased cardiovascular health.

You also do not need to exercise continuously for 30 minutes per day. Research shows that you can break up exercise periods and still get the same health benefits. Walking for ten minutes three times a day will have the same effect.  

Mental health experts report that individuals who begin exercising regularly see improvements in their outlook. Some of the health benefits you may experience from exercising are:

  • Improved sleep
  • Improved sex drive
  • Endurance and stamina
  • Reduced stress
  • Elevated mood
  • More energy
  • Weight loss
  • Lower cholesterol

Physical Activity and Mental Health

Most people know that exercise improves physical health. Doctors recommend increasing physical activity for various health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, most do not know it can significantly improve mental health.

Mental health is a key component in addiction recovery. Having a positive outlook on life can help you as you come upon temptations or even if you are experiencing stressful situations beyond your control. When you feel good, you make better decisions. 

Physical activity can also boost your brain health. When your brain is healthy, your mental health improves. You sleep better and think more clearly. Physical and mental health are intrinsically connected through exercise.

Finding Healing in Exercise and Nature

As alumni, you probably remember during inpatient treatment the beautiful vistas of the Rocky Mountains surrounding the Utah facility of Renaissance Ranch. These stunning views are a core component of the ranch’s unique treatment model.

Nature and exercise have powerful effects on the mind. The beauty of creation around you reminds you that we are never alone. We are surrounded by the sanctity and promise of the natural world.

Getting out and smelling the air, even the crisp, cold air of fall and winter, can invigorate our souls. Nature and exercise help us to heal and bring us untold joy and happiness. Embrace exercise, love yourself, and reconnect with physical and mental wellness again. 

You know that exercise is good for the body. Every time you go to the doctor, they recommend staying physically active. You may have also heard that being in nature is good for your health. However, many of us do not know just how true this is. Did you know that thirty minutes of walking outside can reduce cortisol in your body, decrease muscle pain and joint stiffness, and increase cardiovascular health? Being in the sun for 30 minutes a day can increase the Vitamin D your body produces, an essential component of brain health. When you need to get moving, try getting outdoors. And when you need support, call Renaissance Ranch at (801) 308-8898.