According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans spend on average 93% of their life indoors. Summer is the perfect time to encourage patients to get outside and get moving. As part of Great Outdoors Month, there’s no better time to promote a healthier lifestyle by educating patients on why they need to ditch the couch and head outdoors to reduce anxiety, improve blood pressure and improve physical health. Whether camping, fishing, rock climbing, or simply hanging out in the neighborhood park, nature offers each of us plenty of ways to get active, explore and strengthen our bonds with friends and family. Here are some ways you can promote the health benefits of positive outdoor experiences to your patients.
- Reduce Stress – Nature can help reduce stress levels. According to Cognitive Psychologist David Strayer, “Our brains aren’t tireless three-pound machines; they’re easily fatigued. When we slow down, stop the busywork, and take in beautiful surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performance improves too.” Use your website to offer information and/or infographics on how nature can help you unplug, lower stress hormone levels, center your mind and recharge.
- Improve Physical Health – Exercising outdoors provides an opportunity to stay active in a constantly changing environment. Use your on-hold messaging to promote outdoor activities like walking, hiking and running. Tell patients how to choose a challenging terrain and how constantly changing surfaces can also enhance the strength of connective tissue, which may help them avoid certain injuries.
- Age Gracefully – Research from the Journal of Aging Health shows that getting outside daily may help older adults stay healthy and function longer. Participants in the study who spent time outside every day at age 70 had fewer complaints about aching bones, sleep or other issues. Include this information and other outdoor health-related tips in a monthly newsletter.
- Protect Vision in Children – One body of research shows that outdoor activity may have a protective effect on the eyes and reduce a child’s risk of developing nearsightedness (myopia). Use your social media channels to educate parents on how they can help their kids unplug and head outdoors for eye health.
- Reduce Inflammation – Inflammation can go into overdrive with a wide range of illnesses including autoimmune disorder, inflammatory bowel disease, depression and cancer. In one study, students who spent time in a forest experienced lower levels of inflammation than those of their city dweller counterparts. In another study, elderly patients who spent a week-long trip in the woods showed reduced signs of inflammation. Have staff educate patients who have inflammation on ways they can improve their symptoms by heading outside.
To provide patients with more ways to #EscapeTheIndoors, check out other resources for Great Outdoors Month here. Interested in educating your patients on using other kinds of preventive care to stay healthy? Learn how to communicate with patients about preventive care with our free infographic, 5 Reasons Patients Skip Preventive Care.