#HealthyHabits June: Get Active Outside!

They say a habit takes 21 days to make and only 3 days to break. We believe that healthy habits can help to create an overall lifestyle that can aid in a long and happy life. We aren't talking about momentous tasks, but simple things you can do to be the healthiest version of yourself. Each month, we will offer a different healthy habit for you to challenge yourself to stick with.

June's Healthy Habit: Get Active Outside

Summer has officially arrived! Okay, okay- it's not officially summer until June 21st, but the temperatures have risen, the sun is shining, the flowers are in full bloom and it's time to take advantage of our ever fleeting Ohio summer. Besides the sun shining on your face and the warm breeze making you feel happy- there are some serious health benefits to getting outside. 

According to Harvard Health Publishing from Harvard Medical School, a study shows that "Spending time outdoors has a discernible benefits for both physical and mental health."

What are some of these benefits you ask? 

  • Your vitamin D Levels will go up. Research shows that many vitamins, while necessary, don't have such great disease-fighting powers, but vitamin D may prove to be the exception. Epidemiologic studies are suggesting it may have protective effects against everything from osteoporosis to cancer to depression to heart attacks and stroke.
  • You're get more exercise (especially for kids!). According to some surveys, American children spend an average of 6 hours a day with electronic media (video games, television, and so on), time that is spent mainly indoors and sitting down. They found that the children were more than doubly active when they were outside.
  • You'll be happier. Researchers at the University of Essex in England are advancing the notion that exercising in the presence of nature has added benefit, particularly for mental health. Their investigations into "green exercise," as they are calling it, dovetails with research showing benefits from living in proximity to green, open spaces.
  • Your concentration will improve. Researchers have, in fact, reported that children with ADHD seem to focus better after being outdoors. A study published in 2008 found that children with ADHD scored higher on a test of concentration after a walk through a park than after a walk through a residential neighborhood or downtown area. 
  • You may heal faster. University of Pittsburgh researchers reported in 2005 that spinal surgery patients experienced less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications during their recoveries if they were exposed to natural light. 
  • Your short term memory could improve. In one study, University of Michigan students were given a brief memory test, then divided into two groups. One group took a walk around an arboretum, and the other took a walk down a city street. When the participants returned and did the test again, those who had walked among trees did almost 20% percent better than they had first time. 
  • It could reduce inflammation. In one study, students who spent time in the forest had lower levels of inflammation than those who spent time in the city. In another, elderly patients who had been sent on a week long trip into the forest showed reduced signs of inflammation.
  • It helps eliminate fatigue. One study found that people's mental energy bounced back even when they just looked at pictures of nature. (Pictures of city scenes had no such effect.)
  • It can help fight depression and anxiety. One study found that walks in the forest were associated with decreased levels of anxiety and bad moods, and another found that outdoor walks could be "useful clinically as a supplement to existing treatments" for major depressive disorder.
  • Being outside lowers blood pressure. One intensive study of 280 participants in Japan found that along with decreasing stress hormone concentrations by more than 15%, a walk in the forest lowered participants' average pulse by almost 4% and blood pressure by just over 2%..
  • Being outdoors may prevent cancer. Research on this connection is still in its earliest phases, but preliminary studies have suggested that spending time in nature — in forests, in particular — may stimulate the production of anti-cancer proteins. Studies in Japan, where "shinrin-yoku" or "forest-bathing" is considered a form of preventative medicine, have also found that areas with greater forest coverage have lower mortality rates from a wide variety of cancers.
  • Being outdoors is associated with a lower overall risk of early death. A recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found a similar connection: greater exposure to greenness was associated with a 12% lower mortality rate. The biggest improvements were related to reduced risk of death from cancer, lung disease, and kidney disease.

What can I do outdoors? And where can I go? 

  1. Metro Parks: Central Ohio is full of beautiful Metro Parks: 19 to be exact- complete with miles trails to walk, run or bike and opportunities for lots of different outdoor fun for the whole family. 
  2. Outdoor Pools: Swim Outdoors in one of our 7 outdoor pools: We offer swim lessons, water classes,and lap swim times all summer long. 
  3. Bike Trails: We are home to multiple bike trails with beautiful views that take you to multiple destinations. With bike rental services like Columbus Go, you don't need to own a bike to take advantage of these trails. 
  4. Festivals: What's more fun than shopping while you walk? Great events like the Columbus Arts Festival happen all throughout the summer in Columbus, lending opportunity to walking and being active while listening to music, shopping or grabbing a bite to eat.
  5. Run a Race: All summer long there are multiple 3Ks, 4 Milers, 1 Mile Fun Runs and even a half marathon happening all around Central Ohio! Whether you're running for time or just taking a nice walk- doing these races is a great way to get outside (and there's usually a t-shirt and a medal involved, too!). 
  6. Get Out on the Water: Did you know you can cruise down the Scioto River and pass the beautiful downtown skyline while Kayaking Canoeing or Stand-Up Paddeboarding? Or that you can fish at the Pond at the Grove City YMCA? Get out onto one of our many rivers, creeks and lakes this summer and soak up some sunshine while getting active on the water. 

There's so much adventure to be had outside this summer, take advantage of it! As we know in Ohio, Winter will be back before we know it. 

Share your Healthy Habits with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram using the hashtags #HealthyHabits #getoutside #ycbus #adventureoutdoors