I love running and getting out into the countryside for a long trail run. Part of why I love it is the fresh air and being in nature. I love getting away from street pollution and breathing in fresh air. It feels mighty good!!
Last weekend reminded me of the health benefits of fresh air. We spent a couple of nights at my parents who live in the middle of nowhere and took a drive out to visit The Finzean Farm Shop & tea room for which I don't have any pictures but it's fabulous!! We had pancakes, scones and a cooked breakfast for the boys. Then on we went to Braemar and Linn O' Dee for a walk.
I'd been feeling stressed and a bit anxious for a few weeks and couldn't put my finger on it. I realised after the weekend I'd been indoors far too much!! I'd barely been running and I'd done a lot of traveling with work including long flights, cars, hotels and meetings. This can have a negative impact on your health, especially when you don't realise you've barely breathed an ounce of fresh air into your lungs.
After a few days out of town and our trip to Braemar, I felt like a new person on Tuesday morning and was inspired to write about the great benefits of being outdoors.
For those who are less keen on exercise, the health benefits are not just from exercising but getting FRESH AIR itself. This could include sitting in the garden for twenty minutes or taking the dog for a walk. If you spend most of you time inside, in an air conditioned office or home, you're forcing your body to use stale air and our bodies need fresh, clean air to work most effectively.
In Scotland especially, many of us spend more time indoors than outdoors because of the weather. Over winter it's more appealing to head to the gym for exercise (where the weather is predictable) or curl up on the sofa, as an alternative to being outdoors.
I prefer to run outside, even in winter, because at least I can be sure I'm getting some fresh air. I'm inside for the majority of the day otherwise. It is hard to find the motivation to get out in bad weather but I always think of the end point and how good I will feel afterwards. Sometimes the best bit is a hot shower or bath afterwards.
If we spend our day in a stuffy office, hop into a fumey car, drive to the gym and go home in the car, we're seriously missing out on the bloody marvelous benefits of fresh air and this will undoubtedly impact on our bodies and our minds!!!
Now we are finally saying good bye to winter in Scotland, there's no excuse not to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. We have so many stunningly beautiful places on our doorstep, like Deeside, Burn o vat, Potarch, Braemar and Linn O' Dee (below) to name a few.
If you need more convincing, here are some of the benefits of getting fresh air.
1. It's good for digestion
Fresh air helps you to digest food more effectively. From all the health benefits of fresh air, this one is really important if you are trying to improve digestive health.
If you work in an office with a heavy workload, I'm pretty sure there are days when you eat lunch as you continue to work. It's been found that when we eat at our desks, it causes blood supply to divert away from the digestive system, instead, supporting the brain so that we can concentrate. For optimum digestion we need to be in a relaxed state, ideally moving around and away from stress. Taking a stroll allows us to get the fresh air our body needs.
2. It relieves stress and anxiety
Have you ever noticed that certain scents which you smell outside, make you feel good? Research shows that exposing your lungs to fresh air, and the scents of flowers and plants, can help to relieve stress and anxiety. These scents include lavender, fresh cut grass, roses and jasmine. Oxygen is thought to affect the levels of serotonin released in the body, in turn, contributing to feelings of happiness and relaxation.
3. It helps clear the lungs
Most people understand the dangers of smoking, but less think about the damage that can be inflicted on the lungs of people living in heavily polluted areas. Depending on the type and mix of pollutants, our airways can become irritated, heightening the chances of asthma attacks and even increasing the likelihood of cancer. Air pollution caused by an overabundance of cars and factory smoke can also affect lung development and could lead to heart disease.
4. It strengthens your immune system
Did you know that exposure to fresh air could help to generate the bacteria needed to fight off harmful pathogens. A pathogen is the first link in the chain of an infection, and the only way they can be stopped is to have a host of good bacteria defending your body. Getting your daily dose of fresh air is sometimes enough to help your immune system fight off pathogens.
5. You will have more energy and a sharper mind.
If you spend a lot of time at home or in an office, you may find yourself feeling the effects of fatigue and tiredness like I was last week. This may not always be due to lack of sleep or hours spent in front of a computer: it may be due to the limited amount of fresh air you have at your disposal with many of us being used to breathing in the impure air that circulates around a confined space.
A number of studies show that visiting your local beach, park or forest could help you increase your energy levels. A series of studies carried out by Rochester University concluded that being outside in nature for just 20 minutes a day is enough to significantly boost vitality levels.
How do you get a daily dose of fresh air?
Do you have a favourite walk or running route?