Spending Time In Nature is Good for Your Health

Family walking in nature

Do you ever wonder why vacation is so relaxing, and you feel healthy and rejuvenated? It’s more than just being away from work and day-to-day responsibilities. Chances are, when you’re on vacation, you’re spending more time outside. Maybe you’re relaxing on the beach, hiking through the woods, or even exploring a new city on foot. While we’ve known for a while that spending time outdoors benefits your health, a recent study answers the question: How much time should I spend outside?

The study

The journal Scientific Reports published a study recently indicating that spending as little as 120 minutes a week outdoors can have a significant positive impact on your health. The study pulled data from the Monitor of Engagement With the Natural Environment Survey, which collected data from 20,000 people in England.

The data revealed that 120 minutes was the magic number for a connection between spending time outside and improved health. People who reported spending two hours outside every week also reported having a greater sense of well-being and better health overall than others who spent 60 or even 90 minutes outside.

What are the benefits of spending time outside?

Being outside provides a variety of benefits to your health. For example, spending some time in natural sunlight helps your body produce vitamin D, which helps to reduce your risk of health conditions, including osteoporosis, depression, and heart disease. Very few Americans have sufficient vitamin D levels, but just spending 10-15 minutes in the sun a few times a week can increase your vitamin D production.

Spending time outside also increases your overall activity levels. For example, if you plan an outdoor activity for your family, chances are you’ll walk, hike, swim, or bike. Outdoor activities also reduce the amount of time you and your family spend sitting still and watching something on a screen.

Light and exercise also can elevate your mood. So, if you have a choice between pounding out the miles on a treadmill or in a spin class, if you choose to run or bike outside you have the added benefit of sunshine and fresh air to boost your mood and improve your sleep.

Spending time in green spaces can also improve your concentration and accelerate the healing process.

How can I incorporate more outside time into my schedule?

Even in a concrete jungle like New York City, you can find green spaces to enjoy with your family. In addition to Central Park, the most well-known park in the world, New York City is home to over 1,700 parks and green spaces and four of them are even bigger than Central Park’s 843 acres.

State parks such as Schunnemunk Mountain State Park and the Franklin D Roosevelt State Park are just a short train journey into upstate New York. And of course, you can’t forget the beaches and green spaces in Long Island and even New Jersey.

You can make weekend trips with your family for extended time outside or take a bike or walk around one of the many parks in the city. While spending time in nature is ideal, can you walk for part of your commute to work for extra fresh air and exercise?

You could join a sports team or encourage your children to join a team and then attend their outdoor practices and matches.

The team of expert physicians and clinical staff at Maiden Lane Medical want to help you lead your healthiest and most fulfilling life. If you have questions about adding exercise to your lifestyle or spending time outdoors if you have allergies or asthma, schedule an appointment with us today.

Medically Reviewed By

Harry Gruenspan, MD, PhD
Board Certified Endocrinologist, Internal Medicine & Metabolism