Nerdy for Nature: The Science of Getting Outside

It’s no secret that fresh air can make us feel our best. It’s why taking a little lunch break stroll or slipping outside after a long day of work can feel so refreshing. Even just a few minutes outside can change your day. 

Here’s the incredible part: the impact of fresh air isn’t just a feeling. Researchers have been studying the mood boosting effects of nature for years… and the findings are pretty cool!

Nature Smells Great – Researchers at the University of Kent discovered that smells experienced in nature (think woodsy scents while hiking or salty air at the beach) can make us feel relaxed, joyful, and healthier. Not much research has been done on olfactory connections to wellbeing, so this study was an exciting one and added to researchers’ knowledge of multisensory experiences in nature.

Prevent Vision Changes – The shape of our eyes is changing, thanks in big part to screens. Research has indicated that screen time is linked to myopia (aka nearsightedness), particularly in kids. Previously, nearsightedness was thought to only be genetic. The good news? Getting outside can counteract this. Giving our eyes time away from screens and changing up the distance in which they are focusing can be preventive. So go ahead, stare off into the ocean, woods, or desert. Your eyes will thank you!

Improve Sleep – We know that light plays an important role to keeping our circadian rhythm in check. But a 2019 study in Europe recognized that getting more sunlight during the day can also improve our sleep cycles at night while also improving our mood. Natural light during waking hours can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep at night, improve sleep quality, and help you feel more tired when it’s time for bed.

Our own Toad research (that’s obv super scientific) shows that the days are getting longer and temps are warming up. This means more opportunities for playing hooky when the surf report is up (we won’t tell), post-work adventures, a stroll around the neighborhood, or weekend wandering.

So go on: get some sunshine, admire towering trees, and sink your toes in the sand – science says it’s good for you!