We all know the health benefits of getting exercise outside. Even while relaxing with some light gardening or playing with the grandchildren on the patio, you will be more active than when you are sedentary indoors watching TV.
But what’s less obvious is the fact you don’t even need to be active to feel those benefits. A Government-published survey concluded that we are increasingly perceiving spending time outdoors relaxing and unwinding, watching wildlife and enjoying the scenery as a way to keep healthy.
Who would have thought those lazy days spent lounging on the patio with a good book, perhaps under a sun awning for shade, were actually good for you.
Improving mental wellbeing
Being outdoors has been proven to increase alertness, relieve fatigue and reduce impulsive behaviour and aggression. In fact, 88% of people find mental wellbeing is a key benefit of spending time in the garden.
Incredibly, a survey found natural surroundings influenced mental health so much that there was 50% less crime and domestic violence in families with views of vegetation when compared to those without such views, when living in identical housing blocks.
Spending time in the garden has also been linked with reduced levels of agitation and increased motivation in dementia sufferers. Watching birds and wildlife is actually one of the most popular activities for people living with the disease. A simple patio heater and a sun/rain shelter ensures these activities can be enjoyed all year round.
Breathing fresh air, away from indoor pollutants
When most people think of pollution, they visualise busy roads. Few people think of gas cookers, cleaning products, dust, damp and mould, even though these sources are found where we spend most of our time, inside the home. Of course outdoor pollutants exist too, but they can be found in much higher concentrations when they accumulate indoors. Getting outside will give your lungs a well-deserved break.
Sleep affects every aspect of health, from our immune system function to weight control. Problems often arise because our biological rhythms, such as our sleep pattern, naturally tie in with the day and night cycle. Relying heavily on artificial light can disrupt this flow and cause problems sleeping.
A similar effect is found in individuals who are blind from birth, due to them never having such environmental light cues.
Letting your eyes recover
Looking at a screen all day can have such a detrimental impact on eyesight the condition has been given its own name; Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Symptoms include blurred and/or double vision, eye irritation and headaches. While you may not have a choice if you work in an office, spending your free time watching TV or browsing the web only increases the amount of time you are spending in front of a screen each day.
Near sightedness amongst children is rocketing in the UK, with rates having doubled since the 1960s. Some studies have attributed this to higher exposure to unnatural light due to an increase in time spent indoors.
Encouraging child development
Nature is a major motivating factor for exercise in children, and also increases enjoyment, relaxation and lowers stress levels. England’s largest outdoor learning project, published last year, concluded children were also more motivated to learn when outside.
Despite this, the average “roaming radius” has shrunk by 90% in the last 30 years. Children now spend more time indoors than prison inmates. While video games and Wi-Fi are no doubt modern temptations, parent-led safety and security concerns are cited as the main factors for children staying closer to home.
With this in mind, the key to getting the health benefits of being outdoors is providing a safe place to play in. The garden is the perfect environment; enclosed and offering you full control, while still allowing children to feel independent. Additions such as a patio awning can provide weather protection across the seasons, and UV-rated fabrics are available to prevent sunburn without the need for sun cream. Heating and lighting can be integrated for even more hours outside.
With so many health benefits to getting outdoors, and spring just around the corner, now is the perfect time to change your routine. A small change to where you choose to relax can have a huge impact on your family’s well-being.
This article was written on behalf of Roché Awnings. Roché want to help more people enjoy being outdoors, and the happier, healthier life which comes with it. This is why they choose to specialise in al fresco living, with award-winning patio awnings, veranda awnings and glass roofs and rooms.
All products are made to order, with water resistant and UV-rated fabrics to provide protection and comfort all year round.