Spending time in the Great Outdoors brings a host of benefits to your physical and mental health – so it should be an integral part of any well-rounded study regime.
Whether you’re a UK-based learner anticipating an impending heatwave or a student from sunnier climes who takes a sizzling snap in your stride, here are 10 reasons you should get outside this summer.
1. Lower blood pressure
According to Japanese research, forest walks lower blood pressure and help you relax. So the next time you need a break from the books, soak up some serenity by wandering through your nearest woodland or park and embrace the blissful ambience of birdsong and gentle breezes.
2. Peak problem-solving capacity
In 2012, researchers from Kansas and Utah studied participants in a natural environment performing higher-order cognitive tasks – which require breaking down a problem into parts in order to recognise patterns and using advanced concepts to find the best solution. Subjects’ performance improved after spending time immersed in nature, so heading outdoors to solve the trickiest coursework conundrums is another top tip.
3. Boost Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a crucial part of a balanced diet and fuels your brain and body for studying success. It’s found in foods like salmon, but we get most of it from sunlight – so get outside and absorb those revitalising rays, but don’t forget the sun cream!
4. Combat SAD
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a serious condition caused by lower light levels during winter and symptoms include exhaustion and a flat mood. If you suffer from SAD, getting outside during longer summer days helps keep it at bay – so make the most of the season.
5. Restore your focus
If you experience a mid-afternoon slump where it’s tough maintaining focus, a swift stroll in the park can sharpen your senses again. In fact, US researchers have proven that merely viewing nature pictures improves attention.
6. Boost brain function
In a 2016 study, Chinese neuroscientists proved that interactions in the brain required to solve the Necker Cube spatial awareness test were more dynamic and integrated in rural environments than in urban environments – another reason getting outdoors might boost your brain for academic achievements.
7. Improve mental health
For mental health charity MIND, the benefits of being outdoors are multiple and range from increasing confidence to improving self-esteem. Indeed, ecotherapy is now a recognised health treatment which capitalises on the cathartic properties of activities like gardening.
8. Counteract study time spent sitting
The negative health effects of a sitting down for too long are well documented and it’s something students sometimes find hard to avoid. However, a 2015 study by the American Association of Nephrology revealed that strolling outside for just a couple of minutes per hour can counteract them.
9. Long-lasting anxiety reduction
The Urban Mind app was created to examine how city life affects mental wellbeing, and an associated study has found that the anxiety-reducing effect of a morning walk outdoors last for up to seven hours — meaning it’s one of the best possible starts to your day.
10. Increasing inspiration
When life feels hectic and fast-paced, climbing a mountain or hiking across a rugged trail provides a sense of time simultaneously expanding and slowing – and US researchers from Stamford believe this is the perfect seedbed for flourishing creativity and inspiration.
Balancing hitting the books with heading outside is a breath of fresh air in more ways than one, so build it into your study regime soon.
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