Georgia Institute of Technology: Spending time outdoors benefits wellness

Going outside for just a few minutes each day can improve your overall wellness, from relieving stress to improving your sleep. Joi Alexander, director of Health Initiatives in the Division of Student Engagement and Well-Being, cites some of the mental health and physical benefits of being outdoors.

“Getting some fresh air is a simple way to improve your mood,” Alexander said. “The fresh air can help raise oxygen levels in your brain, which increases serotonin levels.” Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that alters your mood.

Being outside encourages physical activity, which releases endorphins that boost your mood. “Whether it is going for a walk, hiking, or even gardening, there are countless ways you can increase your exercise by being outdoors,” she said.

“Spending 20 to 30 minutes outside has been proven to reduce stress levels. Even for a short period, being outdoors can reduce cortisol levels, which is the natural chemical in your body that causes stress.”

The body needs sunlight to make vitamin D. “Being in the sun for 5 to 15 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week, will help you get the vitamin D and sunshine your body needs,” Alexander said.

Spending time outdoors also helps regulate your sleep cycle. “Your body runs on an internal clock or circadian rhythm. When you spend time outside during the day, the exposure to sunlight regulates this internal clock and allows you to sleep longer and better.”

Georgia Tech’s campus is filled with gardens and green spaces that are perfect for studying, eating lunch, having a meeting, or catching a few winks between classes. Whether you prefer sun or shade, remember to wear sunscreen. Go outside to one of your favorite spots or discover a new one to promote and explore your own wellness.

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