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Spending 67 minutes daily outdoors boosts mental health

We all know that feeling of being mentally drained, cooped up indoors, staring at screens with the walls closing in. Maybe it’s a long workday, a rainy weekend, or just the modern malaise of too much time inside. But what if the solution to better mental health was as simple as stepping outdoors?

A new survey suggests that spending just 67 minutes outdoors each day can work wonders for our mental health. That’s roughly the length of a good movie, a solid workout, or even just puttering around in the garden. And the benefits? Think of it as a refresh button for your brain.

Indoors vs. outdoors impact on mental health

Nearly 60% of Americans admit to feeling restless and agitated after spending too much time inside. The average breaking point is about 10.5 hours.

What happens when we’re stuck inside too long? Research reveals the following:

  • Depression: Prolonged indoor time leads 38% of people to report feelings of depression. The lack of sunlight and fresh air can significantly impact our mental state.
  • Anxiety: About 33% experience increased anxiety. The confinement and lack of physical activity can heighten stress and worry.
  • Loneliness: Another 32% feel lonely. Being isolated from others can create a sense of disconnection and isolation.

The good news is that stepping outside can quickly reverse these negative feelings. The positive effects of being outdoors include:

  • Relaxation: 68% of people say that spending time in nature helps them relax. The sights and sounds of the outdoors can significantly reduce stress levels.
  • Mood boost: 66% of people report feeling happier and more positive after being outside. Exposure to natural light and fresh air can lift our spirits and improve our mood.
  • Mental clarity: 64% experience improved mental clarity. Nature provides a calming environment that helps clear our minds and improve cognitive function.

Nature as self-care

“From enhanced mood to feelings of relaxation and well-being, there are so many physical and mental benefits that come from breaking through the four walls and exploring open-air adventures and activities,” says RVshare’s CEO Jon Gray.

“During Mental Health Awareness Month in May, we are encouraged to be mindful of how we’re spending our time and factor outdoor experiences into our everyday lives, including our travel plans.”

Fortunately, it seems Americans are catching on to the benefits of spending time outdoors. The survey found that:

  • Increased priority: 57% of Americans are now prioritizing outdoor time more than ever before. This shift indicates a growing awareness of the importance of connecting with nature for overall well-being.
  • Mental health benefits: 59% of respondents say that engaging in outdoor activities benefits their mental health. The positive impact on mood and mental clarity is becoming widely recognized.
  • Physical health benefits: 58% of people also report that outdoor activities benefit their physical health. Regular exposure to nature encourages physical activity, which is essential for maintaining good health.

Popular outdoor activities

The appreciation for the outdoors is not limited to simple activities. People are embracing a variety of outdoor pursuits. Some of the most popular include:

  • Grilling or cooking outside: 23% of respondents enjoy grilling or cooking outside. This activity combines the pleasures of food with the benefits of being outdoors.
  • Hiking: 14% of people prefer hiking. This activity allows individuals to explore natural landscapes while getting exercise.
  • Camping: 11% of respondents find camping to be their preferred outdoor activity. Camping provides an immersive experience in nature, offering both relaxation and adventure.

These activities highlight the diverse ways people are incorporating outdoor time into their lives, recognizing both the mental and physical health benefits.

Pandemic shifts

COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed how we view travel. Now, it’s less about crowded cities and more about wide-open spaces:

  • 16% are traveling to more nature-focused destinations.
  • 15% are specifically seeking trips that boost their mental well-being.
  • 67% consider travel itself a form of self-care.

Interestingly, road trips are making a comeback, with 57% preferring to drive over flying. This might be because 83% believe the journey is just as important as the destination.

Mental health benefits being outdoors

For those venturing outdoors, the benefits are clear and significant. A substantial 36% of people experience a notable reduction in stress when they spend time outside.

Additionally, 33% report feeling mentally recharged and rejuvenated, highlighting the restorative power of nature on the mind.

Furthermore, 23% of individuals develop a deeper sense of gratitude for their lives, finding that outdoor experiences help them appreciate their surroundings and personal well-being more profoundly.

These statistics emphasize the profound positive impact that spending time in nature can have on mental health and overall outlook on life.

“A key takeaway here is that spending time in nature and on the open road while traveling has both physical and mental benefits,” says Gray.

“Whether soaking up the Sun, hiking a new trail, or gazing up at the starry sky, we’ve all experienced the invaluable renewal, mental clarity, and freeness that comes from being outdoors,” he concluded.

It seems the prescription for a healthier mind might be simpler than we thought. So, lace up your hiking boots, fire up the grill, or just find a quiet spot to sit under a tree. Your brain will thank you.

This study was done by Talker Research, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society (MRS) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).


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