”Question: What can I do to improve my eating habits with my family?
Reading time: 4 Minutes
- Learn about the surprising benefits of eating meals outdoors!
- It boosts your immunity and wellbeing through lowering cortisol.
- When we eat outside, we tend to socialize more which has a positive impact on your brain health.
- Spending time outdoors in general, has been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease risk of chronic disease.
- Finding a quiet area to eat outside can help encourage self-reflection which is great for mental health.
- Eating outside can help encourage more physical activity.
The summer weather is finally here and most the nation is flocking outside to get a healthy dose of Vitamin D. Coincidentally, it’s also National Picnic Month! So, now that you’ve got a fantastic excuse to make your way into the countryside for some picnic nibbles, you may be asking, are picnics good for your health? The answer is yes, and here’s why:
1. It boosts immunity and wellbeing
Something simple like eating your lunch ‘alfresco’ can make a big difference to your mood and eating outdoors can make positive physical changes to your body. It reduces your stress hormones and if done regularly can even boost your immune system!
Dr Paul Innerd, Clinical Exercise Physiologist from the University of Sunderland explains:
“Eating outside – especially with family or friends – instantly impacts on our cortisol levels, a hormone which is higher in stressful situations. Too much of it puts us at risk of illness.
“High levels of inflammation – which can heighten the risk of cancer and other chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type II diabetes – could also decrease if alfresco dining is also done on a regular basis. General immunity could also increase.”
2. Socialising is fun and can also protect the brain
Everything’s better with friends! If you haven’t seen your children or grandchildren for a while, going for a picnic might be a good way to get everyone together. You get to relax safely in the open air and the young ones can run around to their heart’s content!
It’s well documented that socializing is good for you, but did you know that it can even help slow down cognitive decline? According to an article published by Age UK: Research suggests that having close ties to friends and family, and participating in meaningful social activities, may help people maintain their thinking skills better in later life and slow down cognitive decline.
3. Get outdoors, doctors orders
The hills are alive with the sound of health benefits! Spending time in the great outdoors has tremendous health benefits, for example:
- Decreases in diabetes
- Lower incidence of cardio-vascular mortality
- Lower blood pressure
- Better immune system
Some doctors are even handing out ‘nature prescriptions’ encouraging people to get outside to help treat issues such as:
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
4. Time for some self reflection
Mental health is a huge part of your overall health. Exercise and eating a healthy diet are great, but you need to look after your mental health too! Going for a picnic in a quiet spot can be a great time to relax and indulge in some self-reflection.
An article by Psychology Today notes: The goal is not to judge your past choices, but to reflect on them, learn from them, and make whatever changes you feel are appropriate for you in the here and now. As you build new habits through self-awareness, you can become more balanced, healthy, and happy.
5. Staying active
Your picnic needn’t involve running a marathon. Simply walking through the park to your perfect spot can be enough to get your body’s metabolism fired up. Staying active as you get older can be a bit more difficult, but it’s really important to do what you can.
According to Alzheimers.org, there is some evidence to show older people can reduce their risk of dementia and Alzheimers with regular exercise. A review found 27 studies looking at the effect of physical activity on brain function in people over 60 years of age. In 26 of the studies there was a clear link between physical activity levels and cognitive performance, suggesting that exercise might be an effective way to reduce cognitive decline in later life.
MWi would like to thank Owain Farrington for sharing these insights with our community. Click the button below to go to the original article: