Want more birthdays ahead? Go outside.
That’s the conclusion of a recent study that looked at the daily habits of more than 3,000 adults between ages 70 to 90, over a 25-year period. Researchers divided the subjects into three groups, based on how often they left their homes: daily, 2 to 5 times per week, and less than once per week. (See what ONE daily ritual these 5 fitness pros over 50 never skip.)
When mortality was assessed in the later years of the study, researchers found that those who went outside every day were at the lowest risk of death, while those who rarely left home had the highest mortality risk.
This finding was consistent even when factoring in health issues like diabetes, heart disease, visual impairment, and impaired mobility, notes lead study author Jeremy Jacobs, MD, from the Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center in Israel.
“Resilient individuals remain engaged, irrespective of their physical limitations,” he says, adding that the improved survival was observed among people with low levels of activity. That means you don’t need to go for a jog—you could even just sit outside to experience benefits.
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Although the exact reasons behind the findings weren’t included in this study, previous research has found that people who spend more time outdoors may have lower stress levels and better mental health, which can both drive longevity. (Here are 9 habits of the world’s longest living people.)
“Throughout history, even introverted artists and writers had daily routines that got them out of the lab or studio,” says Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, PhD, author of Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, which profiles several productive thinkers of different eras.
In addition to the obvious physical health benefits of going outside and being less sedentary, getting some fresh air, particularly in nature, can improve mood and emotional balance, says Pang.
Also, the recent study highlighted that people who go outside more often tend to have stronger social connections, which Pang says has been proven to guard against cognitive decline and lower the risk of depression and anxiety. (Every woman needs these 7 types of friends in her life.)
Says Pang: “Simply put, getting outside daily is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health.”