Nature’s Playground: The Benefits of Outdoor Activities and Work Outs for Overall Well-Being

by | Aug 8, 2023 | Wellness

The world is becoming increasingly connected, but also noticeably disconnected from nature. Because of advances in communication technology, it is now possible for all of us to stay in touch much more effectively. Tasks that would have taken months to accomplish are completed in days if not minutes. This has benefited human society in so many ways. But it has also meant that we have significantly shorter attention spans. And when all manner of entertainment and recreation is at your fingertips, it’s understandable that many have abandoned the great outdoors.

In Pakistan, this trend has been exacerbated by the pandemic. As Google data indicated that outdoor activities (including visits to public parks, beaches, and public gardens) were reduced by 45% because of COVID-19[1].

But, it’s time to step outside again, because outdoor activities can benefit our overall well-being in profound ways. Here are some of the benefits of engaging in outdoor activities and workouts.


It Improves Bone Health


According to research conducted, various people across Pakistan suffer from Vitamin D deficiencies. This is alarming because low levels of Vitamin D in the body have been linked to various health problems, including the weakening of bones[2]. What is particularly interesting, is that data suggests that urban populations have higher Vitamin D deficiency than rural populations across Pakistan[3]. It was noted that one reason for this is that people in urban localities spend less time outdoors in sunlight.

Thus, by incorporating regular outdoor activities and workouts into your lifestyle, you can ensure that you get enough sunlight to maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D in your body. Even spending 15 to 30 minutes in the sun in the morning can be very beneficial[4]. Among other health benefits, this will ensure that your bones stay healthy.


It Regulates Sleeping Patterns

Woman Yoga on Beach

Did you know that one way to improve your sleeping schedule is by incorporating outdoor activities into your daily life? According to the Alaska Sleep Clinic, spending time outdoors can help “reset” your body’s internal clock[5]. Stepping outside can help with your circadian rhythm, which is your internal 24-hour sleeping and waking pattern[6].

When your circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can lead to restless or disordered sleep and long-term health concerns. Spending time in the sun can help regulate it, and improve your sleeping schedule[7].


It Can Benefit Your Mental Health


Spending some time outdoors has been shown to improve mental health. The natural environment and light that you are exposed to has been shown to be a mood booster, and help with anxiety[8].

But outdoor fun can also improve your mental health for another reason. According to Michelle Kondo, a research social scientist with the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, spending time outdoors is also often associated with community connections[9].

This is the case for many cultures, and certainly in Pakistan as well where family picnics, beach trips with friends, and even afternoon walks are community activities. As Kondo explains it, “we are finding that isolation is a killer and that the outdoors really provides that space for us to come together under trees or to walk together along trails.”[10]

Considering that going for a walk has been noted as an acceptable and accessible physical activity for many across Pakistan[11], it might be time to restart those daily walks with a loved one. Not only will they help you stay active, but can also foster meaningful connections and improve your mental health.


It Helps You Stay Physically Fit


Perhaps most obviously, outdoor workouts and activities can help you stay physically fit. But they might be more effective than indoor activities. Research published by COMSATS University, Islamabad that looked at university students indicated that outdoor sports were positively correlated to improved health[12].

This is to be expected. As Harvard Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Heather Eliassen notes, spending time outside can result in, “improvements in sleep, blood pressure, cognitive function, and physical activity, as well as reduced risks of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.”[13]

However, research also indicates that the naturally stimulating environment outdoors actually takes your mind off the physical activity[14]. Because of this people have reportedly burned 10% more calories when they workout outdoors, even while doing the same activities that they do indoors.

Thus, spending a little bit of time outdoors every single day can have profound and lasting benefits for your physical, mental and emotional well-being.
















Green Beauty: Exploring Natural and Sustainable Skincare Routines

Pakistan boasts a rich heritage of natural beauty skincare products deeply rooted in its cultural traditions. Among these are great alternatives to be added to one's skincare routines. For example, Multani Mitti (Fuller's Earth)[1] stands out for its unparalleled...

Embracing the Essence of “Slow Living” in Pakistan: A Journey Towards Balance and Well-being

In a fast-paced world dominated by technology and rapid urbanization, the concept of "slow living" has gained prominence as a counter-movement.[1] Rooted in mindfulness and a desire to savor life's moments, slow living encourages individuals to embrace a more...

Conscious Consumerism: Making Informed Decisions For A Better Future

Did you know, that according to a 2015 study, that “household consumption” was responsible for 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions[1]. To explain it another way, more than half the emissions were caused by the production and use of goods and services that most of...

Deepening the Narrative on Mindful Eating for Personal Health and the Planet

The term ‘mindfulness’ may have gained popularity recently, but it refers to a centuries-old practice deeply rooted in the philosophy of being present and aware. Mindfulness, at its core, involves bringing attention back to the present moment, fostering an acute...

The Impact of Fast Fashion on the Environment and how to Break the Cycle

In Pakistan, the word ‘fashion’ is synonymous with consumption. One cannot be accurately identified as ‘stylish’ or ‘fashionable’ if they are not adding more and more garments to their wardrobe, following the latest styles. This trend-driven purchasing behavior is...

Sustainable Travel: Tips for Eco-friendly Explorations around Pakistan

Finding a new scenic location to fall in love with is perhaps the highlight of the year for most of us. It is no surprise then that, post the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism is regaining traction globally. However, while wanderlust travel is an enviable leisure activity,...

Podcast: In conversation with Neha Mankani – Founder Mama Baby Fund

Hear Neha Mankani, the second Pakistani woman featured on the BBC list, discuss her inspiring journey. Through her charity, Mama Baby Fund, she has provided life-saving birthing kits and midwifery care to over 15,000 families affected by floods. Neha Mankani, a...

Podcast: Shameen Khan in conversation with Dr Ayesha Mian

Shameen Khan in conversation with Dr Ayesha Mian - CEO and Founder Synapse Pakistan

Stress, Sleep, and Bone Health: The Holistic Approach for Women

Bone health is an increasing concern for Pakistani women. For example, research has shown that in Pakistan, 97% of women between the ages of 75 and 84 show signs of osteoporosis[1] (a bone disease linked to the loss of bone mineral density and bone mass). What's more,...

Maternal Nutrition: Fueling Your Body for a Healthy Pregnancy and Beyond

According to UNICEF’s Pakistan Maternal Nutrition Strategy 2022-27, children of malnourished women are more likely to face cognitive impairments, short stature, lower resistance to infections, and a higher risk of disease and death throughout their lives, as well as...