The Benefits of Exercise and Being Outdoors

In a world that is technology-driven, our teenagers are spending more and more time in front of their cell phones, TVs, computer, and gaming systems, and less time outdoors. Many of them are developing screen addictions, which are linked to depression and anxiety. However, there is significant research indicating that outdoor adventures and exercise have positive influences on mental health. Below are a few benefits that you and your teens may experience by shutting down those electronics and exploring the outdoors.

  • Moderate to vigorous activity and time outside correlates to positive academic performance

    Exercise allows more endorphins to develop in your brain. Endorphins allow you to feel happier and more focused. According to an article in the New York Times, research has shown that on the whole, children who are more active are more able to focus their attention on academics and are more able to perform simple tasks. They also have better working memories, problem-solving skills, and perform better on standardized testing than non-active children.

  • Being in nature improves physical health

    Vitamin D is a major benefit to getting outside and enjoying the sunshine. Vitamin D has been linked to prevention of autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and many more.  It also has positive impacts on your mental health. “Spending time in nature has been linked to improved attention spans (short and long term), boosts in serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitter) and shows increased activity in the parts of the brain responsible for empathy, emotional stability, and love.”

  • Being in nature helps mental health

    In one example of research, at Stanford University it was found that people who walk for 90 minutes in nature (as opposed to high-traffic urban settings) ‘showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression’ but little physiological differences than those who walked for 90 minutes in a city, according to Stanford news.

Parents, remember that you are models for your children. The more you involve them in activities and the outdoors, the more integrated they will be. So, instead of everyone going to his or her respective electronic device this weekend, try getting outside and enjoying an activity as a family.


Chelsey Beauchamp, MS