Study Reveals The Important Health Benefits Of Getting Outside

At a time when so many of us are confined to our homes it’s never been more important to ensure you make time to get outside.

However, for many people that simply isn’t possible. Without the right accessible products in place, many older and vulnerable people are left in a situation where they can’t leave their homes, even to go into the garden, never mind to have a much-needed doorstep chat or a walk with loved ones.

Invisible Creations®, a company dedicated to designing attractive yet discreet home adaptations conducted a study to uncover a number of important health benefits from going outside. Read on to find out more.

Key Findings

  • A walk outside can lower your pulse by 4% and blood pressure by over 2%
  • Walking in nature has been linked to improvements in short term memory
  • Walking outside has proven to lower activity in the prefrontal cortex
  • Exposure to green space can lower mortality rates by 12% and reduce the risk of deadly diseases
  • Edinburgh has the most green space in the UK
  • Falls are the most common cause of injury related deaths in people over the age of 75

Health Benefits of Going Outside

Many people spend their days working inside under fluorescent lights and in front of screens, only to turn to their phone or television screen out of work.

But research shows the importance of getting out of the house. A 2018 study revealed that a walk outside can lower the pulse by 4% and blood pressure by just over 2%. In fact, research shows that walking in nature can improve your short-term memory.

Findings from Harvard show that taking a 90 minute walk in nature in either a natural setting or an urban one found lower activity in the prefrontal cortex.

The Importance of Green Space

A study by the Environmental Health Perspectives found that exposure to green space was associated with a 12% lower mortality rate, helping to reduce the risk of death from cancer, lung disease and kidney disease.

A study from Positive News used satellite images to discover what percentage of green space our UK cities have.

The UK’s Top 10 Greenest Cities

 

Ranking Region Greenspace
1 Edinburgh 49.20%
2 Glasgow 32%
3 Bristol 29%
4 Birmingham 24.60%
5 Greater London 23%
6 Sheffield 22.10%
7 Leeds 21.70%
8 Manchester 20.40%
9 Bradford 18.40%
10 Liverpool 16.40%

 

This revealed that Edinburgh offers the most green space than anywhere else in the UK with 49%, followed by Glasgow with 32%. Bristol took third position offering 29% green space for its residents.

 

Slips and Falls in Winter

During the autumn and winter months the risk of falls increases. According to Age UK falls are the number one reason older people are taken to the emergency department in a hospital.

And in England, there are over 210,000 falls-related emergency hospital admissions among people aged 65 and older every year. With falls estimated to cost the NHS around £1 billion a year, according to the Centre for Ageing Better.

According to Age UK falls are the most common cause of injury related deaths in people over the age of 75. Over 5,000 older people died as a result of a fall in 2017, a 70% increase on the numbers in 2010.

If it isn’t safe, or you’re unsteady on your feet then it’s important to think about how to reduce your risk if you are stepping outdoors. For those staying at home more Age Scotland have created a range of accessible, enjoyable exercises that can be done around the home.

 

Loneliness In Lockdown

Data from ONS shows that 5% of people in Great Britain (2.6 million adults) reported that they felt lonely “often” or “always” between 3 April and 3 May 2020, about the same proportion as pre-lockdown. Of those asked, 30.9% (7.4 million adults) reported their well-being had been affected through feeling lonely in the past seven days.

This shows how vital it is to ensure that people can get out and about during the day, if only to get some fresh air and see familiar faces.

 

Expert Advice

Invisible Creations® spoke to a range of experts to understand more about the benefits of being outdoors.

Harry Mansfield, from The Awareness Key told us that when we go outside our concentration levels improve and our anxiety levels are reduced.

“The cells in our bodies are continuously being repaired and we become more grounded as our mind calms as we use our senses more. This helps us to become aware of so many other things that are going on around us rather than just focusing on ourselves.

“Isolation is one of the main triggers for mental health issues. This is why it’s crucial to go out as much as possible. Outdoor activities and/or exercise clear your mind and allow you to see things from a different perspective. When I suffered from PND, exercise and regular walk outdoors were one of the reasons I managed to pull through eventually.”

Author and maternal mental health advocate Ivana Poku

Certified Enneagram Practitioner, Psychodynamic and Master NLP Coach Nick Hatter told us “Spending time outside is important for Vitamin D and time in nature is also very beneficial for mental health. A lack of Vitamin D can certainly contribute to both immune deficiency and depression, as backed up by research.”

Nick continued to say that “Exercise has been shown to be, in some cases, as effective as antidepressants. Humans are like plants; we need to get the right physical and emotional nutrients, or we wilt and die. Thus, exercising outdoors, even if for a brief walk outside, can be very beneficial!”

“As our research shows, we need to make sure our loved ones can safely venture outside and take advantage of the multiple health benefits that the outdoors provides.” Laura Wood, Marketing Director at Invisible Creations®.

Laura continued “We all get older, it’s inevitable. But something we don’t expect is that the older we get the poorer the quality and range of products and services available to us are. We remain dedicated to placing dignity at the heart of design to help more people benefit from the great outdoors thanks to our innovative products. Our dual-purpose plant pot holder is a subtle way to give loved ones a helping hand when they venture outside.”