Stepping into the Benefits of Being Outside: A Guide by Vionic

Think back, and try to remember the last time you felt leaves and twigs crunch beneath your feet. What about the last time you admired rays of sunlight cutting through forest treetops? (And no, putting a “forest ambiance” stream on your living room TV doesn’t count.)

These days, we have little reason to leave our homes and apartments. Just about everything can be delivered, information and entertainment are readily accessible, and virtual hangouts can replace in-person gatherings. But there are incredible benefits to going outside, especially when it comes to your physical and mental well-being. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of being outside and break down how you can properly equip yourself for new outdoor adventures this year and beyond.


The Physical Advantages of Outdoor Activities

Realizing how accessible nature is can be the first step to getting yourself outside. But if you need more motivation, look no further than the physical and mental benefits regular outdoor engagement can grant us.

According to UC Davis Health, connecting with nature more can have the following positive effects on our bodies:

  • Reduced cortisol levels (i.e. reduced stress)
  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Lowered heart rate and blood pressure (which can reduce the risk of heart disease)

With this in mind, consider what daily activities you can take from inside to outside. If you regularly read, meditate, or journal, you can consider doing these activities at a local park or other accessible outdoor area. 

Planning on meeting up with a friend? Suggest a hike or a picnic. 

If you’re used to working out indoors and are hitting a plateau, a bout of outdoor activity can be just what you need to reinvigorate your physical fitness. In fact, one of the benefits of walking outside is that it allows contact with different types of terrain. Stepping over roots or climbing up rocks can stimulate more muscles or challenge the ones you use every day in a new way. 

If you’ve ever wondered how to stay consistent with working out, the key is to vary your routine and scenery to keep things fresh and exciting, ensuring you stay motivated and engaged in your fitness journey.

For a shoe that can support your healthy movement in many terrains, we recommend the 23Walk Classic Sneaker by Vionic. It features: 

  • A moisture-wicking mesh liner to keep your feet cool 
  • A molded EVA midsole to support every step 
  • A thermoplastic heel counter for increased stability 
  • A durable outside with superior traction

Sunlight and Vitamin D: Natural Light Benefits

Another benefit of going outside is the exposure you get to sunlight. Not only is sunlight exposure thought to counteract the harmful effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but it also provides a much-needed boost of vitamin D to our bodies.

The benefits of being outdoors and increasing vitamin D from natural light are extensive, as few people are able to get their daily vitamin D requirement from food alone. In fact, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, an estimated 1 billion people across all age groups and ethnicities lack adequate vitamin D in their systems.


What Does Vitamin D Do?

Vitamin D doesn’t solely come from sunlight. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin found naturally in some foods, and it’s also offered as a dietary supplement. The primary role of the vitamin is to promote healthy calcium absorption in the gut and enable normal bone mineralization. In other words, it keeps your bones strong and your internal systems functioning properly.

Studies have linked healthy levels of vitamin D to the following positive health benefits:

  • Increased bone health and reduced risk of fractures
  • Increased muscle strength and muscle fiber preservation
  • Reduced risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Reduced risk of premature death
  • Reduced risk of dementia and cognitive decline

And in case you were wondering: working in a sunny office or catching rays while driving in your car does not afford you any extra vitamin D, since window glass completely blocks UVB ultraviolet light. So, getting outside is still the best way to increase your daily dose of vitamin D.


Nature’s Impact on Mental Wellbeing

The impact of the great outdoors is as significant on our minds as it is on our bodies. It’s the reason why many people flock to hiking trails or parks on warm weekend days or make it a goal to visit all of the nation’s great National Parks. It simply feels good to be in nature. 

But just how do our brains benefit from nature? According to the US Forest Service, there are substantial mental wellness perks to immersing yourself in outdoor green spaces, such as: 

  • Lower risk of depression – Retreating into nature can help restore your mind in numerous ways, as being outside is associated with a lower risk of depression and faster psychological stress recovery. Engaging in activities like hiking or simply enjoying the outdoors are simple healthy lifestyle habits that can reinforce these positive effects.
  • Increase focus and attention – Have you felt like your attention span has dwindled lately? Whether digital distractions or multitasking is to blame, one thing’s for certain: time outdoors can help your mental clarity. Studies have shown signs of increased mental capacities thanks to green outdoor spaces, including increased focus, attention, and concentration.
  • Social opportunity – Feeling isolated and disconnected in our indoor spaces is easy. If you’re a homemaker or work from home, you probably can relate to the mental strain of a lack of social interaction. Getting outside allows you to connect with others while benefiting your physical health simultaneously—not to mention, bolstering your connection to your community.

Whether you’re just having a bad day or suffer from a chronic mental health condition, there’s a good chance an extra dose of mother nature can help improve your psychological well-being.


Enhanced Sleep and Circadian Rhythms in Nature

Tired of tossing and turning at night and feeling like your internal clock is in constant chaos? According to some research, one of the best things you can do to improve your sleep habits is to spend more time outside.

A 2023 study from Austria examined time spent outdoors (TSO) and its relation to sleep, happiness, and health status to better understand the mental and physical effects of the pandemic’s indoor isolation. 

Researchers found that participants who reported less TSO were likelier to report short sleep or a late chronotype (another way to describe your typical “night owl,” staying up late and waking up late). Interestingly, shorter TSO was also associated with lower happiness, lower optimism levels, and poor health status.


What is a Circadian Rhythm?

The same scientists in the above study attributed their findings to the connection between healthy circadian rhythm patterns and time spent outdoors. But what is a circadian rhythm, and why is it so important to our sleep and health?

In short, a circadian rhythm encompasses the physical, mental, and behavioral changes an organism undergoes in a 24-hour period. The biggest influences on circadian rhythm are daytime and nighttime.

When melatonin—a hormone produced in the darkness of night and suppressed in the light of day—is generated in alignment with the night and day patterns of our natural circadian rhythm, it results in the most efficient and restful sleep. Likewise, confusing our circadian rhythm by spending too much time indoors and not exposing ourselves to daylight can disrupt our biological clock and prevent healthy sleep.


Recommended Outdoor Activities by Vionic

Ready to get outside and make the most of mother nature’s boons to your body and mind? Vionic has you covered. Here are some of our favorite ways to stay active in the outdoors and connect with soothing green scenery:

  • Go for a walk – Walking is an accessible and easy way to get outside, whether you have 5 minutes or an hour. Rather than pacing around your office floor or walking on your gym’s treadmill, try taking your daily walk outdoors. Even if it’s just to take a quick break from work, we recommend walking outside to increase mindfulness and decrease stress. If your walking shoes need an upgrade, check out Vionic’s ultra-comfortable insoles with podiatrist-designed arch support.
  • Go for a ride – If you have the equipment, you can enjoy the outdoors in new ways by biking, kayaking, surfing, canoeing, or paddleboarding. With any of these activities, you can move at your own pace and intensity while engaging new muscle groups you don’t ordinarily push while walking. Whether you explore new scenic locales or stick to your local bike paths or ponds, these exercises are enjoyable solo or in a group.
  • Other outdoor activities – Camping (or glamping, if you need some extra amenities) is a fantastic way to restore your harmony with nature. Camping can inspire our explorative and imaginative spirit. Not only that, but there’s ample potential for physical activity while camping: hiking, walking, swimming, yoga, and more. A perfect footwear addition to your pack is the Rejuvenate Recovery Sandal or Restore II Recovery Toe Post Sandal. After a long hike, nothing feels better than slipping on a cushiony, comfortable slide that supports your tired feet.


Enjoy the Outdoors More with Vionic

Spending more time outdoors has proven benefits for your physical health, mental well-being, and sleep quality—so you deserve footwear designed to help you get outside and go the distance in any terrain.

Vionic’s recovery shoes and walking sneakers with arch support offer the stability, support, and comfort you need to stay outside longer doing all of the activities you love. Designed by podiatrists and awarded the AMPA Seal of Acceptance, Vionic’s footwear can protect your feet during any rigorous or relaxing outdoor activity.

If you want to ramp up your walking or reinvigorate your relationship with nature, check out Vionic’s newest products today.



UC Davis Health. 3 ways getting outside into nature helps improve your health.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Vitamin D.

National Institute of Health. Vitamin D.

USDA. The wellness benefits of the great outdoors.

MDPI. Time Spent Outdoors and Associations with Sleep, Optimism, Happiness and Health before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Austria.

National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Circadian Rhythms.

Leave a comment