Get outside! International Forest Day and… Health?

Posted on March 20, 2017 by kerri
March 20th is the International Day of Forests. Well, that’s a weird topic for a health blog! Well, it may be, but the role of the great outdoors in our health is not one that is talked about often enough—especially in the trudges of winter. But alas, today is the first day of spring, so let’s talk the GREAT OUTDOORS even if it doesn’t feel any different than yesterday! While heading out for a hike in your sneakers may not be a good idea if you’re living in the snowy, frozen tundra, but with preparation, some outdoor winter adventures to celebrate International Forest Day—and the beginning of spring—may be just what you need to shake the winter blues, and enjoy more health benefits, too!
Of course we all know the benefits of exercise—such as appreciating the forests around you through a hike! Okay, I know that sounds cheesy, but there are reasons those Life is Good shirts sell—because it works! Managing your weight through regular exercise is important to not only keeping your body as healthy as possible, but also to prevent obesity-related chronic diseases, including some cancers, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you are really not into the outdoors (look, you’re talking to someone who works on the internet from my home, here!) here are some health benefits of exploring the great outdoors.
  • Just 30 minutes a week outside has the ability to lower your blood pressure, which may help decrease your risk of certain chronic diseases. [1]
  • Being outdoors reduces risk of allergies, death from heart disease, and improves self-perception and self esteem. [1]
  • Forbes notes that it is much easier to be sedentary in your house than outside, because look, they are right: if you are sedentary too long outside, people start getting suspicious! [2]
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) most often affects people in winter, when they have less exposure to sunlight—and in fact is treated with exposure to light! Unsurprisingly, mental health concerns, like SAD, anxiety and depression decrease with time spent outside. [2]
  • The vitamin D we get through sunshine keeps our bones strong—and combined with going for a brisk walk outdoors, both of these in tandem prevent osteoporosis. [2]
  • The benefits of being outdoors for your brain are vast: in addition to decreasing risk of dementia [1] and allowing those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder to burn off excess energy, forests can be calming, inspire creativity, and help us recover from both stress and physical illness. [3]
  • March is also Sleep Awareness Month—getting outdoors can help to “set your biological clock” and better sync sleepiness and wakefulness to the day—and of course, that exercise will make it easier to fall asleep, too. [3]
For some people with medical conditions, being outdoors can feel unsafe, whether that is being alone and away from those who can help you, or because of allergies or asthma that become worse when outdoors. Going with a friend, being prepared for any medical situations that may arise, such as bringing an inhaler or ensuring you have packed lots of snacks to raise blood glucose levels for those with diabetes, can be helpful to alleviate some anxiety. And of course, going out with others is usually more fun than going alone—make sure adventure companions are aware of your medical conditions and what your needs might be ahead of time.
Of course, while we have a variety of medical ID bracelets and necklaces, all of which are stainless steel and appropriate for wearing outdoors, some styles may appeal more as medical identification for outdoor adventurers! And, don’t worry, our medical ID jewelry is as tough as you are, and comes with a limited 1 year warranty. So… Get outdoors!

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