We all spend far too much time indoors, whether it’s for work or for fun. Even in California, which is overrun with natural beauty and easy ways to get outside, so many of the things we do each day happen sitting down, or with a roof over our heads, and we don’t spend nearly as much time outdoors as we used to.
As kids, or even teenagers, we’d spend a whole day running around outside, making up games and chasing bugs, but now that we’re adults, we have fewer and fewer excuses to get out in the dirt. It’s vitally important to our health to get some fresh air and move around, so finding ways to work time in nature into an everyday routine is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Hiking is amazing because there are hikes of every length and climb for everyone’s fitness level, and they’re abundant and free.
It has been scientifically shown that breathing fresh air and smelling outdoor scents can reduce anxiety and boost mood. Different plants can have aroma-therapeutic effects on the brain, and help with sleep, appetite, and stress. Breathing fresh oxygen, and not just recycled indoor air, is also important. Oxygen can affect your serotonin levels, which regulate your mood, energy, and sleep, so even just going out onto a balcony or porch and taking some deep breaths can have amazing benefits.
Breathing in polluted air can have the opposite effect, however, and people with asthma or other lung problems should take care to reduce exposure to smog and exhaust. On a hiking trail, the trees provide cover and natural filtration and can help remedy this. Making sure to get out into the open air in nature and staying hydrated are a great ways to help your body protect you from the toxins you might be inhaling if you live somewhere like central Los Angeles or San Francisco, with lots of smog and pollution.