Whether it means sitting in your backyard garden sipping a cold iced tea or going for a thrilling white water rafting adventure, finding time to spend outdoors has lots of benefits.

A little fresh air, the sun on our skin, bare feet in the sand: spending time outside can bring so many small pleasures, making us feel refreshed and revived. Whether it means sitting in your backyard garden sipping a cold iced tea or going for a thrilling white water rafting adventure, finding time to spend outdoors has lots of benefits, some of which you might find surprising!

1. Improves Short Term Memory

Who would have thought that a little time with the flowers and trees can actually improve your memory? The University of Michigan conducted a study that revealed students who regularly went for a nature walk actually had a better time retaining information.

2. Reduces Stress

In a world flooded by screens, sometimes just taking the time to unplug and go outside can do wonders for reducing stress. Nature has a calming effect on our brains, even if it means going outside for just five minutes each day. As an added bonus, outdoor exercise, like going for a walk, hiking, and so forth, gets the blood flowing and heart pumping, another way to lower stress levels.

3. Increases Levels of Vitamin D

Sure, too much sun can damage the skin and possibly lead to cancer. That being said, studies show that getting between 15 to 20 minutes a day of sunshine will allow your body to absorb vitamin D which helps strengthen bones and reduce the risk of cancer, type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.

4. Improves Sleep

Spending time in natural light helps our bodies better regulate sleep patterns. When the sun goes down, our brains will release the right levels of melatonin to help get a good night’s sleep.

5. Strengthens the Immune System

Research has shown that going outdoors and getting enough sunlight can help boost the immune system. Make sure to take a little stroll outside or enjoy a bit of fun outdoors to help fight disease and stay healthy.

6. Increases Happiness

You can find all kinds of different activities outdoors for all fitness levels and preferences. Whether it means going for a swim in the sea, taking the dog for a walk in the park, or mountain biking, finding outdoor activities that we enjoy will boost your mood and help to feel happier. Plus spending time in nature promotes mental well-being.

7. Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation in the body can lead to all sorts of disorders, from depression and cancer to autoimmune diseases. A study demonstrated that participants who spent a bit of time each week walking in the woods experienced lower levels of inflammation in the body.

8. Improves Vision

We spend a lot of time looking at screens, which can damage eyesight. Going outside gives our eyes a break from staring at a computer, television, or smartphone. Australian scientists even found that children who spend time outdoors reduce the risk of developing myopia later in life.

9. Improves Creativity

Nature comes in so many colors, from orange-sky sunsets to seafoam green waters and rose-colored gardens. Spending time outside gives a chance to get inspired by all the gorgeous sights, smells, and sounds of the outdoors. Science backs that up, too, showing that spending time outside actually helps get our creative juices flowing.

10. Develops a Deeper Sense of Spirituality

A long walk in a park on your own gives a chance to clear the mind and can even count as a type of meditation. Spending time in nature helps us live in the moment as we breathe in the air, listen to the sound of the birds chirping, or feel the grass on our feet. Nature can even teach valuable lessons and reveal metaphors to help us connect with our spirituality. The changes of season reflect the peaks and valleys we go through in life. Meanwhile, a coursing river reminds us of our need to “go with the flow” and navigate the waters of life, so to speak.