Physical, Social, Emotional and Intellectual Benefits of Outdoor Recreation

Outdoor recreation is enjoyable for men, women and children of all ages. Performing physical exercise while outdoors provides a way to get outside and enjoy your natural surroundings. Aside from breathing fresh air and discovering nature's many wonders, the outdoors provides various activities to keep you wanting to go back outside for more.

Outdoor activity is great for many reasons. (Image: Kerkez/iStock/GettyImages)

The advantages of outdoor activities are endless and will help keep you and your family physically and mentally healthy.

Outdoor Workouts and Fitness

Outdoor recreation provides a multitude of advantageous physical activities that may be performed in solitude, with several friends and family members, or with your local recreational sports team. Sports such as hiking, canoeing, swimming, racket and ball sports and numerous other physical activities give you more choices for enjoyable exercise, which is likely to keep you motivated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that adults perform at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense activity every week, ideally spread out over the course of the week rather than all at once.

Social Benefits of Outdoor Activities

Adults and children alike can experience the social benefits of outdoor activities. Participating in sports and recreation provides everyone from young kids to seniors with an opportunity to meet and build relationships with others. Participating on a team will help you to form lasting friendships with people who share your passion for outdoor recreation.

Mental Benefits of Outdoor Activities

Harvard Health Publishing notes that physical activity helps reduce stress and prevents some cases of depression. Exercise reduces anxiety, and consistent activity provides more relief for anxiety and depression.

Better self-esteem often results from consistent recreation, partially due to a decrease in stress and to the overall feeling of well-being that occurs from regular aerobic exercise. Breathing fresh air in a natural, serene environment also helps many people to relax and reduce stress and anxiety, which is another advantage of outdoor activities.

A 2015 paper published in the journal _Cognitive Behavioral Therapy _explained that exercise is a good treatment for mental health because it does not come with side effects, as medication can, and also does not carry the stigma that attending therapy or taking medication still does in many communities.

According to the paper's authors, exercise as a standalone treatment or augmenting other forms of mental health treatment can help people dealing with anxiety, major depressive disorder, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

While you should not attempt to treat serious mental illness on your own, if you are anxious or have a mental illness it may be worth speaking to your doctor about exercising as part of your recommended treatment plan.

Sleep Benefits of Outdoor Activities

Research shows that people who exercise regularly experience longer, deeper, more restful sleep. Better sleep results in more energy and alertness the following day, allowing better concentration and ability to think on higher levels.

Along with better rest and rejuvenation for your body during the night, regular physical activity that reduces stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression will help you to concentrate more during the day.

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