People Who Spend More Time Outside Are Happier And Healthier
Why Is This Important?
Because this is why they call it The Great Outdoors.
Long Story Short
A scientific study has found that people who spend more time outside have a better body image and generally feel better about themselves than those who are stuck inside.
These days it seems that pretty much all of us are spending too much time cooped up indoors instead of getting out into the world (unless we’re Pokemon hunting, that is), and certainly no one would say they feel betterabout themselves for having spent more time inside. Now, new research suggests that problems with body image and self esteem can be directly combatted by heading outside and getting some fresh air.
A survey led by Viren Swami, a professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge investigated how being outdoors changes the way we feel about ourselves and found some striking statistics.
For this research, 199 women and 200 men (guessing one female participant went AWOL) from the US aged between 19 and 76 were given an online survey that contained statements about their body image and then asked to rate how much the statements applied to them on a scale of 1 to 5.
Example statements were: “When I see good-looking people, I wonder about how my looks measure up” and “I feel pressure from family members to look thinner”.
The participants were then asked how much they went outdoors in their normal day-to-day life. Interestingly, the results showed a direct correlation – those who spent more time in nature showed a greater appreciation of their own body and generally felt happier.
“Spending time in a natural environment may help us develop a sense of ownership over our physical selves, gives us a greater respect for our bodies, and a better understanding of what our bodies can do rather than what our bodies look like,” Swami explained.
The results suggest that camping trips or going hiking could be a useful form of therapy for those with serious problems linked to their body image such as eating disorders.
However, the research leader was also keen to warn that the cause and effect may be the other way around and it could be that those who feel more confident about their bodies in the first place are more likely to go outside than those who feel unhappy with how they look.
Nonetheless, getting out of the house or office definitely has proven health benefits with 30 minutes of nature a week reducing the chances of depression and heart disease, and and a recent study in Chicago found that there was less crime in areas with more trees and green spaces, even in areas with high rates of poverty.