_K0C8251There is nothing like stepping outside on a cool, sunny morning and taking in a few deep breaths of fresh air. From the cold bite of a crisp winter day to the heat and humidity of the dog days of summer, there is just something about being outdoors that makes you feel better and more alive. Research points to the fact that nature improves your mind, body, and spirit – so here are three things to think about as you head out the door and into the wilderness.

 Nature is a natural relaxant
Research from the University of Michigan’s Psychology Department suggests that an outdoor environment rests your brain and protects it from over-stimulation. It also helps improve your memory by sharpening your focus, which is beneficial to everyone – especially those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Nature is rich in vitamin D
The more you are outside, the more adept your body becomes at absorbing natural sources of vitamin D found in nature like the sun itself. Vitamin D provides many benefits to the body including strengthening of bones, protection against heart disease and diabetes, and fortification of the immune system to help protect against illness. If it is hot, be wary of spending too much time outdoors without adequate sun screen.

Nature may help prevent cancer
Although research on this connection is in its infancy, early studies suggest that spending time in nature may help the body produce an enhanced level of ant-cancer proteins. The increased level of these proteins may last up to a week after returning indoors. Japanese studies have even indicated that areas with more forests have lower mortality rates from cancer, although more study needs to be done in this area to come to any concrete conclusions.

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