We all grew up hearing people tell us to "go out and get some fresh air." But is fresh air really as good for you as your mother always claimed? According to recent studies, the answer is a qualified yes, depending on the air quality in your area. If you're in out camping or RVing in one of our beautiful wilderness areas, the answer is a gigantic YES!
Fresh air cleans our lungs. If the air you're breathing is clean -- which it would be if you're away from the smog of cities -- then the air is filled with life-giving, energizing oxygen. If you exercise out of doors, your body will learn to breathe more deeply, allowing even more oxygen to get to your muscles and your brain. Did you know that your brain sucks up twenty percent of your body's oxygen? So getting plenty of clean, fresh air into your lungs is a good way to keep your brain functioning at tip-top capacity.
Recently, people have begun studying the connection between the natural world and healing. All across the country, hospitals and recovery centers have begun building Healing Gardens or Therapeutic Gardens -- places where patients can go to be near nature during their rehabilitation. It turns out that just looking at green, growing things can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and put people into a better mood. All of which greatly helps with health and healing.
Greenery is good for us. There is evidence that hospital patients who see tree branches out their window recover at a far faster rate than patients who see buildings or sky instead. Being in nature refreshes us. It gives us an overriding feeling of peace.
Just as importantly, we tend to associate fresh air with exercise, and for good reason. Anyone who's ever spent time outdoors on a brisk fall day or a cool summer morning knows how invigorated it makes them feel. The more you're outside, the more energized you feel, which in turn makes you want to be outside and active even more. It's a beneficial feedback loop! Of course, city air that's badly polluted can be harmful rather than helpful. Particularly if you suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems, you may have a hard time breathing outdoors on smoggy days. Some cities, such as Los Angeles, issue air quality warnings for that very reason. If you find that the air outside makes breathing more difficult, then maybe it's time to plan a trip into the woods or country.
Another side benefit of getting fresh air is sunlight. While the sun's rays can age and harm our skin, they also give us beneficial vitamin D, a vitamin that many Americans are lacking due to our indoor lifestyles. To make sure you get enough vitamin D -- but still protect your skin -- put on sunscreen right as you head outside. It takes sunscreen about fifteen minutes to start working, and that's plenty of time for your skin to soak in a day's worth of vitamin D.
It's almost impossible to feel lazy or sleepy when a light breeze is tickling your back. Even winter weather can be invigorating if you're dressed for the cold and rain. So what are you waiting for? Like your mom always said, it's time to get out into the fresh air!