3 min|Dr. Lawren Chan
4 Reasons To Get Outside This SummerHealth
Benefits of Spending Time Outside
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy all that Vancouver has to offer. We've got beaches as our front yard, mountains as our backyard, and history all over the city. Getting outside and experiencing this beautiful community this season has numerous health benefits for your mind, body, and spirit. Here's 4 reasons why:
1. Vitamin D
Colloquially referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, this group of fat soluble seco-sterols are unique in their ability to be synthesized by the body through the skin’s exposure to sunlight. In Canada, we have an increased risk of being vitamin D deficient due to our latitude and lack of sun in many months of the year.
Overt vitamin D deficiency results in rickets in children (soft bones/skeletal deformities), and osteoporosis (decreased bone mass and increased fracture risk) in adults. However more mild-moderate deficiencies can manifest as depressed mood, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and lowered immune function.
Therefore, while the sun is out, without burning and overexposing your skin to UV radiation, soak up some rays and let your body make you some vitamin D!
2. Physical Activity
A 2016 survey of Canadian children/youth showed that those who spend more time outdoors engage in more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity than children who stay inside. According to stats Canada, each additional hour outside per day was associated with 762 more steps, and 13 fewer minutes of sedentary time.
The connection between being outside and being active is a logical one as summer in Vancouver opens up options of hiking, biking, walking, rollerblading, volleyball, kayaking, paddle-boarding, swimming, soccer, running, frisbee–you name it!
3. Air Quality
Give your lungs a break from recycled indoor air which increases exposure to infectious diseases and common allergens like pet dander, dust and mold. Other environmental pollutants we are exposed to in the city are emissions from traffic/buildings, smoke, pesticides, off gassing from construction materials, cleaning and hygiene products, air fresheners, and electronics to name a few.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, these pollutants are 2-5 times more concentrated inside than outside. Furthermore, an increase in environmental toxins has been associated with irritation of the eyes/nose/throat, headaches, dizziness, fatigue and the development of chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD (chronic bronchitis and emphysema), and even cancer.
Getting out into the forest or mountains will give your body a break from these harmful chemicals and help oxygenate your lungs with good clean air.
People travel from all around the world to experience the beauty of Vancouver and British Columbia all year round, but especially in the summer. Taking the time to be a tourist in your own city and backyard can revitalize your love for the area and create an opportunity to be thankful for the amazing place that we get to call home.