According to the EPA, Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are around two to five times higher than outdoors.1 There are many other reasons to venture outdoors more often, from soaking up vitamin D from the sun, to being more likely to engage in exercise, to simply being happier.2 When we stay indoors, our immune system doesn’t function as well, our memory declines, and our anxiety goes up, yet so many of us are confined by long work days.3, 4 Find out some easy ways to get outside during the work day without having to become a mountaineer or nature lover.
Vitamin D’s Affect On The Body
Vitamin D is a nutrient our body needs to regulate the immune system, keep our bones strong, and support cardiovascular health. But studies show that an estimated 40 percent of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency.5
Since our body does not make vitamin D on its own, we need to get it from sunlight or our diet. When we spend time in the sun, our body makes vitamin D from cholesterol in the skin cells. Although foods like salmon, canned tuna, beef liver, and egg yolks are also sources of vitamin D, you would have to eat high amounts of these foods to maintain healthy levels of the nutrient, which is why many people take supplements if they are unable to get outdoors often.
When we do not have enough vitamin D, we develop a number of health conditions, including:
- Sleep issues like insomnia, fatigue, or poor sleep quality6
- Frequent respiratory tract infections7
- Chronic lower back pain8
- Bone loss/osteoporosis11
- Slow wound healing12
- Weight gain13
- Muscle weakness15
The Innate vs. Acquired Immune System
The innate immune system is the immunity we are born with, while the acquired or adaptive immune system is created in response to exposure to a foreign substance; vitamin D affects both.16 The nutrient is able to stimulate innate (macrophage) immunity by enhancing the killing of bacteria, but it also modulates adaptive (lymphocyte) immunity to minimize inflammation and autoimmune disease while regulating the activity of T and B cells.17 Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with lower overall immunity, leaving those with this condition more vulnerable to infections and illnesses. During COVID-19, lockdowns and quarantines are intended to prevent catching or spreading illness, but missing out on vitamin D from sunlight still leaves us vulnerable in other ways.
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How Outdoor Exercise Boosts Energy & Confidence
Even more than simply getting our vitamin D levels up, outdoor exercise can also boost our overall well-being. According to a 2019 study, spending just 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and happiness.18 Researchers noted that one explanation for this correlation was that time spent outdoors was a proxy for physical activity, which has already been proven to improve mental and physical health.19 Yet, combined with quieter, less-polluted natural areas, the benefits were even more pronounced. An earlier study from the University of Essex found that even just five minutes of “green exercise” a day resulted in a more positive mood and higher self-esteem in participants.20
Ways To Get Outside During The Work Day
Getting outdoors doesn’t have to mean taking a sick day and stocking up on camping gear. There are several ways you can integrate outdoor time into your routine, which is highly beneficial, even if you have been practicing indoor exercises all along. Try the following:
- Have lunch in your backyard or at the local park
- Take conference calls outdoors, even if it means logging into Zoom from your phone
- Take walking meetings like Steve Jobs
- If you are back in the office, ride your bike or walk to work if you can; if you can’t, park far from the front door
- Set an alarm on your phone to interrupt long periods of sitting with short outdoor walks
Spending time outdoors is one way to lead a healthy lifestyle and boost your immunity, but so is eating well, hydrating often, regulating your stress levels, and getting enough sleep. If you do end up sick, consider taking a homeopathic medication like Brillia Cold-Flu Recovery or Cough Control. Both medications consist of targeted antibody ingredients that are gentle and clinically proven to help to shorten the duration and severity of symptoms by increasing your body's natural immune response without harsh chemicals or harmful side effects. Like vitamin D, the ingredient lapine CD4 immune globulin, which is found in the Cold-Flu Recovery product, also works directly with immune cells, allowing them to fight off the viral infection faster and more efficiently. And the antibody lapine gamma interferon immune globulin strengthens immune cells while also recruiting more to fight off an infection more efficiently.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a certificate in Narrative Therapy. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.
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