Researchers in Canada and other parts of the world are busy studying the impact that COVID-19 has had on our mental health and other areas of society. They have also been looking to investigate and see whether or not the pandemic has made people look to become more active outside.
With many physical recreation facilities closed it meant that people had to go looking elsewhere, how much of that void was filled with time spent outdoors?
That is what some researchers in Canada have been investigating. Researchers suspect that the pandemic might have prompted some to take up new habits of being more active. Millions of people are used to living a sedentary lifestyle which could be very detrimental, and there are numerous studies that showcase the benefits of spending time outdoors and being active.
Not only has it been suggested to be the superior alternative for health, but it’s also the solution that makes more economic sense for many as well. This is because going for a walk or getting active at the park in some other way is much cheaper than a gym membership. While people had to resort to finding other things to do to stay active this might have also meant looking to save money during the pandemic and finding natural things that families can do outdoors that don’t cost any money. With many lakes, beaches, and parks around the BC area, there is no shortage of options.
Less Stress and Longer Attention Spans Connected with Outdoor Time
One previous study found that students are more likely to be less stressed if they spend more time outdoors. Not only that, but that they are also likely to have longer attention spans as well. Studies over the years have continued to reinforce the notion of a stress reduction relationship that comes with getting active outside and spending time outdoors.
According to previous research on the subject of the close connection to nature and spending time outdoors, it’s been discovered that exposure to greenspace might help to reduce the risk associated with various illnesses too.
Another recent study on the topic, looking to quantify the health benefits that might be associated with natural sounds, researchers from Carleton University in Ottawa found that there were positive affect outcomes with groups that had been exposed to natural sounds, and that natural sounds have led to a decrease in annoyance and stress by as much as 28 percent.
What sound had the highest impact? Water
Water was the most relaxing sound that they found and it came with the highest impact from their investigation. They analyzed dozens of studies to examine health outcomes that might be associated with spending time outdoors and with nature sounds etc. Other natural sounds that were included were bird sounds, wind, and other sounds.
Where were the parks with the highest quality soundscapes? They were determined to be in Hawaii, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest. They asserted that their analysis revealed that if you are listening to some natural sounds, rather than just noise, that there will be better health outcomes. For now, they aren’t sure exactly what might be driving this effect, why it has such an impact on the individual.
Anyone who sleeps with a sound machine might already be too familiar with how soothing those outdoor nature sounds can be. As well, these investigations add to the mountain of evidence which already supports the benefits associated with spending more time outdoors and around greenery.
Spending time in nature has been associated with a wide range of potential health and mental health benefits.
From spending time outdoors, to hearing natural sounds, to just having more plants around, it has all been found to help improve the quality of life in some way or another. Living near green spaces has been shown to potentially promote longevity.
Less Than 5 Minutes Per Day
Spending time outside might be better for you than you think and today not many of us spend that much time outdoors. Most Canadians live a sedentary lifestyle where they’re either on the chair, couch, bed, not much time spent being active. Canadians have previously been found to be some of the least active people in the world.
In general, we’ve been too busy or too lazy to get outside and enjoy the greenery around us. For those of us that are lucky to have some nearby.
One previous study found that about 30 percent of Canadians are spending less than 5 minutes outdoors on a daily basis. As far as how much time you should spend outside to see positive effects, researchers have a suggestion. They have suggested that as little as 10 minutes outside on a daily basis might have an impact.
That might be helping to reduce stress, boost happiness, or bring some other benefit. It has been seen in students and others that when time is spent outdoors it doesn’t take long for the benefits to kick in. Spending that time outdoors literally helps people to feel more connected and alive, which has been associated with energizing effects.
Other researchers have suggested it might take as much as 2 hours spending time in nature to really see some benefits come through. Then you’ve got some that have suggested maybe 20 minutes is the key. The amount that works for one individual might not work for the other. But whether someone is spending 5 minutes or 2 hours or more, some time is better spent outdoors than no time at all.