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Summer is officially here and what better way to celebrate than by enjoying the outdoors?

Many individuals may not realize the actual benefits that being outdoors can present to them. Whether it is yoga, meditation, or just sitting under a tree and reading a book, studies have shown that being outside with Mother Nature can help improve your immune system and sleeping patterns, as well as reduce stress.

According to a 2019 study of 19,806 participants, spending at least 120 minutes per week in nature can significantly improve your health and well-being. You do not need to spend all two hours outdoors at one time-this can be split up in increments throughout the week!

Health benefits of spending time outdoors can be found below:

  • Better breathing-While you may be aware that air pollution outdoors can trigger allergies and asthma, indoor concentrations of air pollutions are actually often two to five times higher than outdoor concentration. The freshest air can be found in places with high air circulation.

  • Better sleep- Did you know that direct sunlight has 200 times the intensity of office lights in a closed room? Exposing yourself to direct sunlight helps you feel more tired at night, shortens the time for you to fall asleep, and improves the quality of your rest. Just don’t forget your sunscreen!

  • Reduced depression symptoms-Sunlight can also help to ease depression symptoms such as low mood and fatigue.

  • More motivation to exercise-Outdoor exercise offers a nice change in pace from the gym or staring at the wall of your basement while walking on the treadmill. Remember, any activity to get you moving outdoors is good for you! You don’t have to walk or bike but can work in the garden or play with your dog.

  • Mental restoration- Ongoing overstimulation, such as flashing screens and vibrating phones, can raise your stress levels without your knowledge. Nature can counteract this stress by offering a mental refuge when you need to take time to relax and unwind. The sound of birds chirping or the smell of flowers can hold your attention without draining your mental energy.

  • Improved emotional well-being- When venturing outside at night, it’s easier for your mind to relax and focus on the world around you due to the decrease of noise and light. Any outdoor time can help relieve any painful or unwanted emotions and improve your mood.

Find the complete study and additional information here.

Dr. Jayaram Thimmapuram of WellSpan Health also recently co-authored a multinational study on how yoga and meditation can help support your mental and physical health. The study shows that both yoga and meditation can help you relax, increase productivity at work, improve your ability to cope with stress, and help you stay healthy during the pandemic. The entire study and specific findings can be found here.

Looking to try yoga for the first time? Look no further as WellSpan Health is offering four FREE Yoga in the Park sessions from July 13th-August 3rd. Enjoy a beginner’s session to yoga while embracing the outdoors at Chambersburg Memorial Park. Register for all sessions in the series here, or you can also register for the July 13th, July 20th, July 27th, and August 3rd sessions separately.

Meditation is another excellent way to relieve stress and improve your emotional health. There are many different ways to meditate and it’s important to focus on what works best for you. The practice can have lifelong health benefits, such as improved self-image, lengthened attention span, and reduced blood pressure and age-related memory loss.

More information about the health benefits of meditation and tips on how to get started can be found here. The Calm app is also a very helpful tool to utilize for anyone needing more guidance.

Individuals can also utilize MyStrength, a free, confidential resource for the community to help maintain good mental health.


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