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Out the Door: The Top Benefits of Studying Outside

What are the benefits of studying outside? If you’re a college student, learn how getting out the door can give you a physical and mental boost to help you ace your next exam.

A photo of several Saint Leo University students sitting down and studying outside with their laptops and textbooks at University Campus

Twenty-six percent of college students study anywhere from six to 10 hours per week, according to the National Survey of Student Engagement. Roughly 43 percent study more (11 to 20 hours each week), with 21% reporting that they often spend more than 21 hours weekly when preparing for their college courses. If you currently limit your study time to your dorm room, library, or other inside location, you may be missing out on the many benefits of studying outside.

Improved Mental Health

Have you ever noticed that when you spend time outside, you feel better mentally? This isn’t just a coincidence but a benefit that is backed by science. The American Psychological Association reports that spending time outdoors has been linked to:

  • Better mood
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved attention
  • Increases in empathy and cooperation
  • Lower risk of developing a psychiatric disorder

So, studying outside can help contribute to all these benefits. When you feel better mentally, it becomes easier to handle any obstacles that may pop up throughout the day. The improvements in attention also make it easier to take in the information contained within your coursework.

Fewer Colds and Flus

Trying to study when you don’t feel good can seem like an impossible feat. All you can think about is how bad you feel. Spending your day sleeping is a more appealing option than tending to your studies.

Studying outside helps reduce your risk of catching the latest cold or flu bug by boosting your body’s level of vitamin D. While this nutrient is best known for keeping your bones healthy and strong, the Office of Dietary Supplements shares that it is also important for proper immune system function. When you have adequate vitamin D levels, your body is able to fight off both bacteria and viruses.

To get the benefits of studying outdoors without increasing your skin cancer risk, limit your time in direct sunlight to just a few minutes per day. The Mayo Clinic also recommends wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, applying it generously and frequently—or at least every two hours.

Better Sleep

Do you have a hard time falling and staying asleep? If so, studying outside may be just what you need to help you get a better night’s rest.

Research indicates that natural daylight can help you fall asleep sooner, sleep longer, and improve sleep quality. To gain the most from this benefit, aim to study outdoors earlier in the day. This helps prevent sleep issues from later-day exposure to light.

More Energy

College can be a busy time, especially if you also work and/or have a family to look after. Being pulled in multiple directions can really sap your energy. Do you know what helps boost your energy? Studying outside.

Spending time outdoors is known to give you more energy while reducing your feelings of tiredness. If you want the most energy possible, research suggests that engaging in some form of exercise while outside is key.

One way to combine exercise and studying outside is to listen to audio textbooks while going for a walk or run. College students who like to engage in physical activity in the form of outdoor cycling can also benefit from this combination. Just remember to still pay attention to your surroundings so you are safe while exercising and studying outside.

Increased Creativity

There’s something about being outdoors that opens your mind. It’s as if losing the four walls around you physically also removes the walls inside your mind that limit your ability to come up with new thoughts and ideas.

Try this one for yourself. Instead of going over lesson review questions inside, go outside and see if it makes a difference. This can also be helpful when working on a project that requires you to think outside the box or formulate your own opinions. You may find that studying outdoors provides the creativity you need for a more thought-out response.

Less Boredom

Another benefit of studying outside is that, if you don’t typically take your classwork outdoors, it can keep you from getting bored. It takes you out of your normal surroundings, giving you something new and different to look forward to when learning your lessons.

Aim to try a different outdoor study spot each week. Go to the park one week and sit in your backyard the next. There are endless options when it comes to studying outdoors, and you can enjoy them all by mixing it up.

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