The best things in life are free. Why fresh air is good for you

Fresh air has a host of benefits. The outdoors, especially the green kind, helps reduce stress, helps us focus better, relieves mental fatigue and even reduces aggression. It has a calming, soothing effect on us and our bodies crave it.


Florence Nightingale, whilst nursing soldiers during the Crimean War, noticed that fresh air was beneficial to the patients she looked after. In a letter in 1860 to the social reformer, Edwin Chadwick, she emphasised this when she wrote: “... the treatment being the open air during the greater part of the day.”

She had noticed that more of her patients had died of infectious diseases than of their wounds and that the remedy was better ventilation and fresh air – her proposals effectively became the foundation of modern nursing.

Good for the Lungs

Being cooped up indoors is not good for the lungs. Air outdoors contains higher levels of oxygen, which helps to dilate blood vessels in the lungs, promoting tissue and cell repair, which in turn allows them to better cleanse themselves.

Vitamin D Levels

When the skin is exposed to sunlight, the body makes vitamin D. Higher levels of vitamin D are associated with better immunity and improvements in mood, as well as a lower risk of developing mental health disorders. The sunshine vitamin is good for the heart, circulation and for keeping bones healthy.

Mental Clarity and Concentration

Outdoor green spaces can help with focus and brain fog. It’s thought that a walk in nature can improve attention and memory by as much as 20%! Good to remember this, when life is taken over by mountains of revision.

Immune System

Those who regularly get outdoors could have stronger immune systems because their white blood cells appear to be healthier.


Green exercise, as it’s been named by researchers, is thought to improve mood, resulting in more smiles and laughter, and is generally good at cheering people up. Additionally, it helps people relax (lowers cortisol levels) and it’s thought to help raise self-esteem.

Exercise and Weight Control

You will get more exercise by going outdoors. Indoor time is linked to sedentary living. Researchers using Global Positioning Devices on 1,000 children to track their movement, found that the children were more than twice as active when they were outdoors.


Just going out for some fresh air is enough to boost your health and wellbeing, but if you can get to a forest, you will enjoy some shinrin-yoku. This is Japanese for making contact with and taking in the atmosphere of the forest. It's the act of simply being in nature and sensing it – sight, sound, smell, touch and even taste.

Plus, in the forest there’s the added benefit of a higher concentration of phytoncides to inhale (airborne chemicals with anti-bacterial properties that are released by trees).

Without a doubt, whether it’s urban green spaces, parks or forests - whichever you can get to – fresh air is good for you.

Further reading:

Keep parks open during the coronavirus. The benefits outweigh the risks. - The Washington Post

The Benefits of 'Forest Bathing' | TIME