How Spending More Time Outdoors Can Decrease Stress, Improve Gut Health and Fast-Track Healing

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Let’s face it, there’s nothing more fleeting than a Canadian summer.

After months of dreary, cold weather, June seems to arrive with a bang, packed full of bright foliage, longer days and the long-awaited kick-off to summertime.

But it’s no wonder we’re all itching to get outside and soak up as much of the summer as possible—our bodies intrinsically know the health benefits that await us.

Spending time outdoors is a chance to ground, relax, and reconnect with ourselves and the natural world—one we’re often sheltered from during all of those cold months spent indoors. But daily exposure to nature has also been associated with lower cortisol levels, heart rate, and blood pressure, all of which are important measures of stress.

There is even science-backed evidence to show that time spent outdoors can be tied to a reduction of chronic health conditions like hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

To put it simply: The best thing you can do for your health this summer is to spend more time outside.

Here are a few reasons why:

Decreased Levels of Stress and Anxiety

Studies show that being in nature can have a positive impact on your sympathetic (responsible for your fight-or-flight instincts) and parasympathetic (your rest-and-digest reflex) nervous systems. Being in forests or surrounding yourself with trees especially is said to decrease stress and depression.

That may be why “eco therapy” has taken off since the onset of the pandemic, with many doctors giving their patients a prescription to spend more time outside to manage their stress and anxiety.

Looking for other ways to manage stress? NuCalm sends signals to activate your brain’s natural relaxation system by interrupting your adrenaline response. In other words, when you’re using NuCalm, you just can’t feel stress. Follow your next NuCalm session with a walk in the woods for a serious dose of mental recovery.

Better Gut Health

If you’ve been looking for ways to improve your gut health, look no further than your garden bed. Research shows that digging around in soil increases your exposure to billions of beneficial micro-organisms including gut-boosting bacteria. It can also give you a serious dose of Vitamin D.

There is increasing awareness about the importance of healthy gut flora. A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, good heart health and brain health, and better sleep. It may also help prevent some autoimmune diseases.

Our naturopathic doctors can also help by teaching you ways to diversify your diet and introduce new, healthy organisms to your gut. Get in touch to book a consultation.

Increased Motivation

As it turns out, we’re more motivated to be active when we spent time outdoors—children especially. According to research from Statistics Canada, every hour kids spend outdoors is associated with seven more minutes of heart-pumping physical activity, 762 more steps on average, and 13 fewer minutes of being sedentary each day.

All of that sunshine also encourages us to be more social, which in turn fends off feelings of loneliness and boosts mental wellness.

If you need another push to get active, get in touch with our team of athletic therapists who can help prevent reoccurring injury by building a stronger frame so you can become the athlete you always dreamed of.

Faster Healing, Slower Aging

Believe it or not, several scientific studies have shown that patients who spend time outdoors while recovering from injury or surgery required fewer painkillers, had fewer complications and experienced shorter hospital stays.

Plus, according to a study in the Journal of Aging and Health, adults over the age of 70 who regularly spend time outdoors sleep better, complain less about aches and pain, and report improved mobility.

If you’re recovering from an injury, why not spend a little time outside after paying a visit to one of our chiropractors or massage therapists? Both practices are proven to help increase circulation and decrease swelling to aid in recovery. You can book an appointment here.

Are you ready to take full advantage of the summer and all of its amazing health benefits? Pair your outdoor time with a treatment from your favourite Align practitioner—book an appointment today.

Be sure to tag us in your summer adventures on  Instagram and, Facebook and join our email list to stay in the loop.