We made it: Spring is here! I welcome this change of seasons with open arms.
There’s just something about spring: Seeing green return to the landscape and watching new life unfold always makes me feel rejuvenated. Even the air smells better in springtime, so breathe deep and fill your lungs!
Research supports what many of us already feel – spending time in nature does our mind and body good. Check out the potential benefits:
Protect your bones. Sunlight hitting the skin eventually leads to the creation of vitamin D in your body. It’s good protection against osteoporosis and other diseases. Just 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your bare arms and legs a few times a week is all you need. If you’re going to be out longer, put on the sunscreen!
Recharge the brain. The demands of everyday life often overtax our brain and body. Time with nature is like a recharging station, allowing us to better cope with life’s stresses. Our brains don’t have to work the same way to pay attention to nature, which allows time for restoration. The possible benefits of spending time outside are a more upbeat mood, increased creativity, improved concentration and reduced stress.
Age gracefully. Older people who get outside every day stay healthier and function better, longer. Studies have shown those who have contact with nature have fewer complaints of aches and pains, sleep issues, or other health-related problems. And, group-oriented activities or hobbies have social health benefits. Tennis, anyone?! If that’s too rigorous, take a walk with a friend.
Move more. Americans spend 90% of their time indoors; there’s no question that most of us, including children, lead a sedentary lifestyle. You don’t need to be outdoors to be active; many people enjoy exercising indoors while they watch TV. But, spending time outside means less time sitting in front of the flat screen and more time engaged in movement such as gardening, cleaning up the yard or running around with the kids or the dog.
With winter being so long and cold and gray here in Upstate New York, I encourage you to make the most of nature’s gift of spring by getting outdoors as soon as you can. Leave your cell phone and earbuds in the house so you can fully enjoy the green grass, colorful buds, early blooming flowers and chirping birds.
What will you do this spring to connect with nature? Whatever it is, it will do your brain and body good! Happy spring!
Amanda Shanahan, M.S., R.D.N., is a registered dietitian nutritionist and manager of employee wellbeing at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield
Joy Auch (585) 238-4374
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company's mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 4,000 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit ExcellusBCBS.com.