Benefits to Physical Movement and Mental Health

Category: Play Therapy

Does the feel of the sun make you smile? When you step outside and feel the wind on your face, do you feel energized?

One of the reasons this may occur is that our brain and body benefit from experiencing the different weather elements like sunshine or wind.

It is recommended that you get vitamin D every day and the best way to do so is from exposure to the sun. Vitamin D is crucial for the regulation of calcium which promotes the maintenance of healthy bones.

But there is more to being outside besides improving your physical health, it can impact your mood.

In this day and age with the predominantly indoor life (e.g., work, technology), you can start to feel closed in by the walls and your mood can be affected.

For example, decreased exposure to the sun has been linked to lower serotonin levels and increased depressive symptoms. Serotonin is crucial to boosting one’s mood and feeling calm.

Sunlight is important as it is through the sunlight cueing the retina that the production of serotonin is triggered (Lambert et al., 2002).

Getting outside for a small period of time every day allows you to engage with nature and experience a different environment as well as increase serotonin and vitamin D.

Exercise is recommended every day and doing so outdoors would benefit both your physical and mental health. For those who have depression symptoms, exercise is recommended as it stimulates nerve cell growth in the hippocampus.

The hippocampus is an area of the brain linked to mood and has been found to be smaller in those with depression (Miller, 2018). Depression is not the only condition that can be improved by regular exercise.

Anxiety symptoms can improve with exercise as the anxious energy decreases with activity instead of remaining trapped in the body. But exercising outdoors may be even more beneficial.

Exercise while connecting with nature has been found to impact children’s self-esteem, resilience against stress, likelihood of obesity, improved concentration, cooperation, and creativity (Chawls & Cushing, 2007).

While summer is here and the sun is shining, take the time and opportunity to get outdoors and experience the elements and nature. Before too long winter will be here and we will be wishing for sunshine!

If you are feel a little off with depression symptoms or anxiety, remember we are here to help. Just give us a call today.

Michelle A. Culver, LMFT