Updated: Apr 19
Add years to your life by living an authentic outdoor lifestyle
Most people think living an “outdoor lifestyle” is mainly for fun and for following a pursuit of passion. Or perhaps people are lazy and just a “surf bum.” While both of these can be true, whether you’re following your love of the outdoors or living the life of a surf bum, you can actually live longer by living your authentic outdoor lifestyle. Pretty cool, hey?
Personally, I think an outdoor lifestyle can be interpreted in many different ways.
It could be someone who just loves the outdoors and spends as much time as possible in the mountains, in nature, on the water, in their garden, exploring their local park or even taking a walk on their lunch break. It could be someone who lives as natural a lifestyle possible that is friendly for our ecosystem. It could be the extreme adventurer that is travelling to the ends of the Earth for climbing and mountain pursuits. It could be the surf bum who is a wave seeker, chasing waves all summer long.
Either way, what these people have in common is that because of their passion for the outdoors, they all experience increased happiness, less stress, better diets and more exercise than the average person – all factors that contribute to a longer life span.
Below, we’ll break each of these down and the positive impacts that your outdoor lifestyle can have on your actual years living on this Earth.
A key part of outdoor recreation is exercise, whether it's by hiking, trail running, climbing, kayaking or simply walking.
Exercise has been proven over time to greatly improve your chances of living longer. The health benefits of exercise are endless, including reduced risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and smaller waistlines.
A paper released called the Framingham Heart Study, which monitored the health and wellness of over 5,200 adults, provided a risk factor index for each participant. This was combined with another study from PLOS One from Australia, which took into consideration the amount of exercise each individual received into three categories: low, medium and high.
This study proved that individuals who exercised regularly had a significant reduction in risk of dying from heart disease. In fact, the group who exercised the least had 6x the amount of risk of dying from heart disease than those in the highest exercise group.
One of the main reasons why people spend time outdoors is that it’s peaceful and an escape from the typical day-to-day. This helps us let go of the daily stress our lives have, including hectic work schedules, home responsibilities and interpersonal tensions. Besides heart disease, too much stress can have all sorts of negative impacts on your well being. This includes, anxiety, depression, headaches and gastrointestinal problems. When you’re stressed, your body produces hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which increase blood pressure as well as alter your digestive and immune systems. These hormones can also cause you to gain weight.
“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” – George F. Burns
Alleviating stress can help your body function better and feel better. Getting outdoors can help alleviate stress by increasing calming and peaceful activities.
Overall, we spend time outdoors because it makes us happy, right? Well, happiness has often been a link to increased longevity, so you’re on the right track to living longer!
In this article, CNN discusses a five-year study that shows older people are 35% less likely to die if they report feeling happy. This is huge! Who wouldn’t want a 35% leg up on life?
In addition, this study showed that the advance of happiness is more important than the presence of negative emotions. Since the brain region that’s activated by happiness is also involved in blood-vessel functions, this is super important to live your life as happily as possible.
What we put into our bodies is essentially fuel. Don’t you want to put in the best fuel possible?
Studies have shown that typically more active individuals have better diets and smaller waistlines. Therefore, healthier and better functioning bodies all around.
Outdoor lovers are no different. As we’re constantly in active situations and looking to fuel our bodies for our outdoor activities, individuals who spend time outdoors are typically looking for the best foods for the activity.
Studies have shown that certain diets can increase your chances for longevity. This includes many of the same foods that are helpful for sustained activity, including whole grains, fresh fruits, coffee and healthy proteins, such as fish and nuts.
These are all heart healthy foods that can help your endurance in outdoor sports, but also live longer.