Research shows that the average American spends 87 percent of their time in enclosed buildings and 6 percent of their time in enclosed vehicles. That’s a total of 93 percent of your life spent inside.
There are a number of reasons why this is unhealthy — for body, mind, and spirit. Studies show that hanging out in nature can actually offer relief for everything from stress to depression. Here are a few more reasons to spending time outdoors:
Getting outside makes exercise easier. Research conducted at the University of Essex showed that the color green, such as that found on trees, grass and other plants in nature, makes exercise feel easier. Plus, other research showed that those who exercise outside are more eager to return for a future workout than those who stick to the gym.
Shake off the Doldrums
All of that fresh air is a quick way to kick your brain into high gear. Ditch the caffeine and stick to a walk in the park. Some studies say that 20 minutes outside can wake you up just as much as one cup of coffee can.
It could improve your focus
Can’t decide where to go on your next weekend getaway? You might want to consider a trip to the countryside. According to a study published in Psychological Science, interacting with nature gives your brain a break from everyday overstimulation, which can have a restorative effect on your attention levels.
There’s something inherently healing about spending time outdoors. Part of it has to do with Vitamin D, which our bodies need for bone growth, cell growth, inflammation reduction and neuromuscular and immune function. Vitamin D can be a tricky nutrient to get enough of strictly from foods, because so few naturally carry it, so most of us soak up between 80 to 90 percent of our Vitamin D from the sunshine.
The outdoors may even help us age gracefully. Research published in the Journal of Aging Health shows that getting outside on a daily basis may help older people stay healthy and functioning longer. Participants in the study who spent time outdoors every day at age 70 showed fewer complaints of aching bones or sleep problems those who did not.
An hour or two at a local park may be all you need to recharge your batteries. You want them to be close enough for quick trips, so you’re in luck because the Central Valley is home to more than a dozen state parks. Here are some in or near the new homes we build in San Joaquin Valley.
- Tule Elk State Reserve is the closest location, lying about 1.5 hours south of Visalia. It’s home to a herd of Tule elk, which was once endangered, but now roam freely over the 950-acre property. The best times to come are from late summer through early autumn when the animals are most active. Bring binoculars for up-close views.
- For giant sequoias, head north to Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Here, you’ll also find Stanislaus River and Beaver Creek for waterside adventures. Two main campgrounds are available with 129 campsites. Be sure to reserve a site at either campground online at www.parks.ca.gov or by phone at 800-444-PARK.
- The 2,826 acres of Great Valley Grasslands State Park represent one of the few examples of native grasslands still remaining in the Central Valley. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to admire such rarities as the Delta button celery or threatened species like the California tiger salamander or vernal pool fairy shrimp. Much of this park is undeveloped, offering a true glimpse of the Central Valley in its natural state. Spring is a popular time to visit because of all the wildflower displays.
If you want to live closer to nature, consider a new home by San Joaquin Valley Homes.