Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise — that’s any activity that gets you a little bit warm and out of breath — can have significant, positive impacts on your life.
1. Sleep better
Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper, as it reduces stress. It also raises and then lowers your body temperature, which can trigger sleep, and, if you’re exercising outside, the natural sunlight can help reset your body clock. Just try to avoid physical activity right before bedtime as exercise generally increases your body’s energy, which may keep you awake.
2. Increase brain power
A quick walk or jog around the block will instantly boost your energy levels and increase blood flow to the brain, making you more awake, alert, focused and productive. In the long term, exercise stimulates the growth of nerve cells in the hippocampus, a part of the brain linked with learning and memory, while immersion in nature helps to give the prefrontal cortex a break and allow your brain to refresh.
3. Boost your immune system
Lead researcher David C. Nieman and his team from Appalachian State University in North Carolina say bouts of exercise spark a temporary rise in immune system cells circulating the body to fight off infections, like the common cold. In Nieman's report, he writes: "A one-year study of 547 adults showed a 23% reduction in upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) risk in those engaging in regular versus irregular physical activity".
Ming Kuo, Associate Professor at the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois, reviewed the literature on immune functioning for 18 health issues, including ADHD, anxiety, cardiovascular disease and allergies and linked an increase in immersion with natural surroundings with improvements related to these health concerns. For this reason, seek out natural surroundings in which you can get active, while also taking the time to unplug from digital devices so that you experience your surrounds with all of your senses.