The Benefits of Walking Outside

I do not think anyone could have imagined the challenges that presented themselves in 2020. Beginning with quarantine and then states slowly beginning to reopen brought people new routines. One thing that did get added to many people's new routines was at-home workouts. As the summer ended and winter months approached, many resorted to outdoor activities to help improve not only their physical health but their mental health as well. Staying isolated can take a toll on a person, and some doctors have begun to write “nature prescriptions” (Ducharme, 2019).

family walking outdoorsBeing outside for 20 minutes can help improve your mood and well-being.

Increased time outdoors also means an increase in the body’s intake of vitamin D, which is known to help improve the immune system, bone density, and depression.

The nature prescriptions that doctors have chosen to write are to help with overall health. Whether you walk, run, hike, bike, swim or even sit down to take in the environment or fresh air, being outside for 20 minutes can help improve your mood and well-being (Ducharme, 2019).

Going for a walk outside has several different health benefits, as well as being one of the safer forms of exercise if proper social distancing guidelines are followed. Walking has been shown to help reduce anxiety, with brisk walking showing an increase in benefits compared to a stroll. Both speeds release endorphins, but a faster pace increases heart rate and thus giving a boost in the release of serotonin, which is linked to anti-anxiety.

Walking, and exercise in general, have been known to lead to better sleep. Specifically, scientists believe that going for a walk in the morning will help improve the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Another, not as well-known, benefit of walking is the ability to aid in digestion. After a meal, a walk helps food move through the digestion track (Lefavw, 2020).

Walking can be done inside or outside, thanks to the treadmill, but walking outside has shown greater benefits. Walking outside gives the body additional challenges that are not present, no matter how sophisticated the treadmill equipment is at home or the gym. When walking outside, the body has to deal with different surfaces, the outside temperature, whether it be hot or cold, wind, and other weather-related elements. Even walking on a seemingly flat sidewalk builds up more muscle in the legs and ankles than a treadmill (Shultz, 2018).

Have you ever noticed that you often spend more time walking when you go for one in nature? It is easier sometimes to spend more time in the outside environment than inside. The increase in time walking only helps to increase the benefits mentioned above. Nature is more distracting, there is more to focus on, instead of a singular screen or wall at the gym. This increased time outdoors also means an increase in the body’s intake of vitamin D. Vitamin D is known to help improve the immune system, bone density, and depression (Gray, 2018).

There are numerous benefits to walking or exercising outside. From improving mental health to increased strength in the legs, a short walk can fit into almost anyone’s schedule and be a fun and safe way to improve one’s overall health. Get a “nature prescription” for a beautiful day and enjoy the benefits of an outdoor walk!



Ducharme, J. (2019, February 28). Spending Just 20 Minutes in a Park Makes You Happier. Here's What Else Being Outside Can Do for Your Health . Retrieved from TIME:

Gray, K. (2018, September 20). 9 Great Things About Running Outside . Retrieved from Under Armour:

Lefavw, S. (2020, March 26). Yes, It’s Okay to Take a Walk Outside During Coronavirus . Retrieved from The Oprah Magazine:

Shultz, A. (2018, December 13). Are Treadmill Workouts Really as Effective as Running Outside? . Retrieved from GQ:

Photo by Any Lane from Pexels

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