Spend more time in nature to lose weight and slow ageing, according to science

Getting outdoors and surrounding yourself in a green environment can have excellent health benefits

Older man runs through a green woodland path
(Image credit: Getty)

Walking, cycling and running outdoors all became more popular over last year’s lockdown. As exercising outdoors became more commonplace when gyms were forced to shut their doors, people realised how good it feels to get out in nature. Not only can it help boost your physical and mental health, but science has said it may be able to slow the process of ageing.

Of course, that’s not to say a ten-minute walk through green environments will knock a few years off of you. However, there is some research to suggest that it can perhaps prevent the acceleration of getting older. 

The planetary health researchers at Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine looked at the effect of surrounding greenery on women’s DNA to find out if there was a link between slower ageing and someone’s immediate environment. The end result was that “higher surrounding greenness was associated with slower biological aging” in the sample of Australian women.

This makes outside endurance exercise like running, cycling, and walking in green spaces a one-two punch, as you’re turning back the clock by both exercising and just spending time in the great outdoors. But of course, if you’re going to be heading for the hills, you’ll need some of the Best Trail Running shoes to keep you well supported along the way. 

Man running alongside a body of water

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Sometimes it just takes inhaling a deep breath of fresh air after a long, stressful day to feel the natural health benefits that the outdoors have to offer. But in addition to the study above, there’s plenty of other scientific evidence out there sharing how beneficial nature can be for our health. A 2019 study published by Frontiers in Psychology revealed that time spent in nature – even just 20 minutes– lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Reducing our cortisol production not only makes us less stressed, but it’s also influential when it comes to losing weight, as cortisol encourages us to store more fat around our middle. Exercising outdoors, whether running, cycling or performing a HIIT workout with our best exercises for weight loss list, can help us lose weight both long and short-term in addition to fighting ageing.

Often when people feel extremely stressed, it shows in our skin, which doesn’t help anyone trying to age as gracefully as possible. So it’s great to know that a 20 minute dose of soaking up your local green space can reduce stress and its nasty consequences. Our best vitamins for women over 50 list contains nutritional supps to keep skin healthy in addition to improving mood and boosting gut health.  

Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.