SSM Health: Time outside can boost immune system, reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes

MADISON, Wis. — Throughout April the Recipe for Health team is focused on being healthy within the environment, After all, April weather tends to allow for more time outdoors, and Earth day isn’t far off. While it’s no surprise that getting outside can be a good thing, SSM Health Physician Roopa Shah is talking the physical, mental, and emotional health benefits of exploring the great outdoors.

“Kids should be playing in the dirt and playing outside,” said Roopa, “because when you play outside you’re exposed to all these different microorganisms that really enhance your immune function. The more you’re exposed to, the more robust your immune function can become, and we all know how important that is right now as well.”

Other benefits from time spent outdoors include an improved circadian rhythm. Dr. Shah says your internal clock uses natural sunlight to run more efficiently, and can even improve your overall sleep. She also says the increased vitamin D helps reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Dr. Shah also says a mere 10-15 minute nature walk reduces stress and anxiety as our brains are hardwired to hear the sounds of nature, which releases positive hormones while also reducing cortisol levels, which can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Our time for kids: recipe for health team is asking what you want to hear about. Let us know what health topics you’re interested in, or share your family’s health story with us, online at ssmhealth.com/timeforkids.