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Mental health

Why getting active outside is key to your physical & mental wellbeing

Engage with the great outdoors to feel good in both body & mind

Here at ParticipACTION, we pride ourselves on a great number of things when it comes to keeping Canadians of all ages and abilities happy, healthy and active. From providing the motivation and the know-how to get active, to promoting the benefits of living an active lifestyle, to sharing tips and tricks to incorporate physical activity into your everyday routine – we always strive to make sure you have all the tools and info needed to live your best life possible.

With that in mind (literally), it’s time to touch on another key aspect of leading a healthy lifestyle that, given the landscape of the past year, is more important than ever – mental health.

Believe it or not, physical activity and promoting mental wellbeing go hand in hand. In fact, studies show that regular physical activity can have profound impacts on mental health, decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

seniors in a forest

Even better? Being physically active outdoors provides a bigger boost to your overall health – be it a reduction in pulse rate or a decrease in depression, fatigue, stress, and anxiety – by providing us with a dose of clean air, vitamin D, and phytoncides (a fancy word for natural oils that plants use to defend themselves against bacteria, insects, and fungi).

5 health benefits of being active outdoors

If you can get outside for a bit of fresh air and activity, whether it’s on your balcony, backyard or even your local park, it all contributes to your overall health, in both body and mind. Being physically active with Mother Nature exposes you to some amazing health benefits, such as:

1. Improved immune system – Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body’s natural killer cells.

2. Boosted moods – considered by some to be a “natural antidepressant”, getting active outdoors and in the sun provides added mental health perks (particularly for those who may experience seasonal affective disorder).

3. Decreased stress levels – can provide a distraction from the stress and anxieties that life can throw at us, calms the autonomic nervous system (think fight or flight).

4. Provides daily dose of vitamin D – taking the activity outdoors lets us soak up some extra rays and naturally build our vitamin D stores.

5. Increases energy – fresh air is invigorating and refreshing while also helping ensure more restful sleeps.

Whether it’s joining an outdoor yoga session, going for bike rides or even taking a stroll through your neighbourhood, being active outdoors (even a little bit each day) can go a long way to keeping you happy and healthy. Remember, the next time you are feeling down, anxious or even tired, the best thing for you might just be a little time reconnecting with the great outdoors.

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