Why you should walk more outdoors even in the fall, according to science

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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This large-scale study reveals the true health benefits of spending more time outdoors, even in the fall

This large-scale study reveals the true health benefits of spending more time outdoors, even during the fall season





We already know that walk, especially outdoors is good: it improves our health in general, gives us a good mood, improves the quality of sleep and lowers the risk of depression. Now a new study, conducted in the UK, has looked at the effects of natural light exposure on mood and sleep quality in more than 400.000 British citizens. Participants in the study answered questions related to their mood, medical conditions and medication intake, and time away from home on a typical day in summer and winter. It was found that, on average, Brits spend around 2.5 hours exposed to sunlight - with the difference between early birds (so-called early birds) who spend more time outdoors than night owls.

A good restful sleep it's a circadian rhythm (our personal biological clock that regulates the alternation of functions within the organism) are in fact direct consequences of our exposure to natural light: the greater this is, the greater the benefits we could derive from it. Conversely, spending little time outdoors and absorbing little natural light will make our mood sadder and cause sleep problems.

This is because the human being, by its nature, needs a clear distinction between day (light) and night (dark) and unfortunately this division is often altered by the use of artificial lighting: the organism, therefore, he is disoriented and cannot understand when it is time to rest. Also, exposure to light inhibits the production of melatonin, which is the sleep hormone. An Australian study conducted last year showed that in almost half of the population the use of artificial light reduces the production of melatonin by almost 50%, albeit with clear differences between individuals.


(Also Read: Start Walking Uphill: You'll Discover Your Unexpected Health Benefits)


Make way for walks outdoors during the day, to fill up on natural light: every hour we expose ourselves to natural light will improve our mood, lower the risk of depression (and, consequently, the use of antidepressants if these have been prescribed by your doctor). Furthermore, a 'virtuous circle' will be created: those who have perceived the benefits of walking outdoors will be more likely to leave the house again and make this walk a habit, unlike those who are sedentary.

Obviously there are differences in the benefits depending on the season: certainly in summer, with full sunlight, the benefits for our health will be maximum, but even the walks taken in the colder months can help improve our circadian rhythm and remove the depression. It's all about incorporating at least an hour of walking outdoors a day into your routine - for some it might be an hour before going to work, for someone else a walk in the park with their dog, or even a walk. done with your partner or a friend. The important thing is not to give up this excellent habit now that the cold begins to be felt more.

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Fonte: Journal of Affective Disorders

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