Are you looking for a way to de-stress and connect with nature? Look no further than birdwatching!
Not only is it a great way to appreciate and connect with nature, but it also has numerous benefits for physical health.
In addition to promoting overall well-being, birdwatching has a positive impact on mental health. Elsewhere, we cover multiple aspects of this such as How connection to nature benefits birders, Can bird watching help anxiety, depression or dementia? and Can birding make you happy? (emotional benefits + why).
In this article, however, we focus on the numerous physical health benefits of birding, such as being in nature and engaging in outdoor exercise. Here, we delve into the science behind why birdwatching is good for our overall health and well-being.
Whether you’re a seasoned birder or just starting out, this article will provide valuable insights and resources for incorporating birdwatching into your daily routine. So come along with us and discover the many benefits of this popular and accessible hobby…
How watching birds connects us with the natural world
Birdwatching is a unique and special way to connect with the natural world. It allows individuals to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, and ambiance of nature and appreciate the beauty and diversity of birds.
Not only is this connection enriching, but research by Richard Louv, who coined the term ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ suggests that nature plays a key role in our physical functioning.
Studies show that spending time in nature provides children with a wide range of health benefits. These include better fetal growth, reducing nearsightedness, increasing vitamin D levels, fostering increased physical activity, and reducing stress and aggression.
Further studies demonstrate that, for adults, spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and well-being. Living in greener urban areas is associated with lower probabilities of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma hospitalization, mental distress, and ultimately mortality.
Though there are few studies on the impact of nature-based activities on physical health than on mental health, it still seems that being outdoors helps our bodies.
Let’s delve into the specific physical benefits.
Bird watching increases physical activities
Bird watching is a great form of outdoor exercise and physical activity. The physical benefits of these activities include improved cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and flexibility.
Not only do you get to enjoy the beauty of nature and the thrill of spotting elusive birds, but your bird watching walks can also double as a workout. The miles of walking and any added weight of your gear can make for a physically demanding exercise.
By getting out and actively searching for birds, bird watchers are engaging in regular exercise. This is still possible using walking aids or a wheelchair.
This activity, just like walking and hiking, helps to improve the health of the heart and circulatory system. It has a positive impact on cardiovascular health.
This can lead to a reduction in the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions. Additionally, being in nature has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels.
Another benefit of birdwatching is the improvement in muscle strength and flexibility. The act of walking and hiking can help to strengthen the muscles in the legs and core, as well as improve overall flexibility.
The impact of birdwatching on reducing sedentary behavior
Sedentary behavior is a major contributor to a number of health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. How does bird watching tackle this?
By getting out and actively searching for birds, bird watchers are breaking up the long periods of sitting that many people experience in their daily lives. This can be especially beneficial for those who have sedentary jobs or spend a lot of time in front of screens.
Bird watching provides a much-needed break from technology and screens, which have become increasingly prevalent in our daily lives.
By stepping away from screens, bird watchers can reduce the negative impact of prolonged screen time on their mental and physical health. Instead, they can focus on the beauty and peace of nature, fostering a healthier lifestyle.
Moreover, bird watching can be a great way to disconnect and relieve stress, allowing for a rejuvenation of mind and body. It’s a wonderful opportunity to engage in a low-impact and relaxing outdoor activity, promoting an overall healthier lifestyle and reducing the negative effects of technology.
Physical activity helps strengthen the immune system
By taking a break from your daily routine and technology, and spending time in the great outdoors, you can boost your immunity and protect yourself from illness. Bird watching allows you to immerse yourself in nature and absorb its health benefits.
Research has shown that exposure to natural environments can improve overall well-being, reduce stress levels, and enhance the immune system. So, next time you’re feeling run down, a dose of the outdoors might be just what you need.
Gentle exercise counts towards health
Like exercise in general, birdwatching does not always need to be strenuous to contribute to our wellbeing. Even if you’re just venturing out into your own garden or the local park, birding can have significant physical benefits.
The possibility of birdwatching as a gentle form of exercise, suitable for people of all ages, including those with mobility issues, makes it a very inclusive hobby.
Taking a walk around the lawn, or going out to replace the bird feeders, can provide regular physical movement. This contributes to keeping our bodies healthy, in turn improving fitness and reducing the risk of obesity and related health problems.
Developing upper body strength
It is still enjoyable to watch birds with the naked eye. But if you have the opportunity to get closer views using an optical device like binoculars, it can also help to build up the muscles in your upper body.
The more steady you are able to hold your binoculars, the more clear the view. So it can be interesting to notice your steady images improved as your arm strength increases over time.
This is particularly true if your binoculars are larger and heavier. This might be the case if you have big binoculars for longer distance viewing, or bird watching in places like woodlands where there is less natural light.
Similarly, as you develop more of an interest in being able to get detailed views of birds, you may like to invest in more equipment. And so it could strengthen your body further as it adapts to carry the extra weight of this birding kit.
A chance to absorb Vitamin D
In addition to the physical benefits of birdwatching, it also provides an opportunity to soak up some much-needed Vitamin D.
Bird watching often takes place outdoors, which means that participants are exposed to natural sunlight. This exposure to sunlight is a valuable source of Vitamin D, which has been linked to numerous health benefits.
One such physical health benefit is the reduced risk of osteoporosis. This debilitating condition weakens bones and increases the risk of fractures.
While Vitamin D is essential for building strong and healthy bones and muscles, it can be difficult to get enough of it from food sources alone.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. So, regular exposure to the sun, combined with a balanced diet rich in calcium, can help lower the risk of osteoporosis and maintain good bone health.
Spending time outside, in the sunshine, is an excellent way to boost Vitamin D levels and improve overall physical health. Bird watching, therefore, offers a chance to connect to a source of Vitamin D to help maintain good health.
Sharpening Physical Responsiveness
Bird watching is a dynamic activity that demands quick reflexes and mental alertness.
From tracking a bird in flight to capturing it on camera, birders must be ready to react at a moment’s notice. This type of mental stimulation can help sharpen overall cognitive function and improve reflexes.
In turn, this can lead to better decision making and increased physical responsiveness, making it easier to navigate challenging terrain and react to unexpected obstacles.
So not only does bird watching provide a thrilling and enriching experience, but it also has the added benefit of improving mental and physical agility.
Can birding help with sleep?
If you have been finding it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, the decision to add bird watching to your daily routine could make a difference.
Research has shown that spending time in nature and engaging in physical activity can significantly improve sleep quality. And what better way to do that than by combining the two with bird watching?
Not only does the peaceful ambiance of nature provide a calming environment for your mind and body, but the act of walking to bird watching spots and being physically active can also have a positive impact on your sleep.
Whether you’re leisurely strolling through a park or hiking through a nature preserve, the physical demands of bird watching can tire you out in the best way possible, leading to a more restful sleep at night.
So, if you’re looking for a natural way to enhance your sleep and overall well-being, hit the great outdoors for a bird watching adventure, big or small. You’ll be happy to discover how much better you sleep after a day filled with fresh air, exercise, and the beauty of nature.
Can bird watching help me live longer?
There is limited scientific evidence to support the idea that birding or bird watching directly leads to increased longevity.
However, the physical activity and exposure to nature that is often involved in birding can have indirect health benefits. And these could potentially contribute to a longer, healthier life.
For example, the physical activity involved in birding can help strengthen the immune system, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and improve cardiovascular health. All of these are important factors in overall health and longevity.
It’s also worth remembering that being in nature has been shown to reduce stress and improve mental health. These improvements can also positively impact longevity.
Will birding help with chronic pain?
In terms of chronic pain, while it’s possible that some bird watchers may notice indirect benefits that help them to manage chronic conditions, it is not to be relied on as a cure or treatment.
There is evidence that physical activity, such as the walking and hiking involved in birding, can help reduce chronic pain and improve overall physical function.
For many people, too, the stress-reducing effects of being in nature and connecting with the environment can also help manage chronic pain by reducing stress levels. But it is important to note that while birding can benefit the body indirectly, it is not a cure or a sole treatment for chronic illnesses.
As always, it is recommended to consult with a medical professional before starting any new physical activity, especially if you have a medical condition or chronic pain.
A good excuse for further exploration
Additionally, bird watching can be a way to encourage people to be more active and to explore new outdoor spaces.
As bird watchers become more experienced, they may find themselves traveling to new locations in search of new species, further increasing the physical benefits of the activity. This could be local, or it might even include traveling to different regions of the country or to foreign countries.
In either case, not only does it increase the physical benefits of the birding through longer walks or hikes, but it also allows birdwatchers to experience diverse ecosystems, and learn about different bird species.
What bird watching wonders will you find in your local area?
Furthermore, birdwatching can be a great way to discover new outdoor spaces and to explore local communities.
Many birdwatching hotspots are located in local parks or nature reserves, and these are often overlooked by the general public. By taking up birdwatching, people can discover new places in their local area that they may have never known existed.
What we can see, from the research cited here, birdwatching can have a positive impact on our overall health and well-being.
Being in nature, engaging in physical activity such as walking and hiking, and exploring new outdoor spaces can improve cardiovascular health, muscle strength and flexibility.
It also contributes to lower blood pressure, reducing stress levels and even boosting Vitamin D levels. Additionally, it can also help to reduce sedentary behavior and obesity.
Given these benefits, it’s clear that birdwatching can be a great hobby to develop, whether you’re an experienced birder or just starting out.
The benefits of birdwatching are available to anyone. As a low-cost and easy way to improve your physical health, it can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities. Having a common aim to your activity can be a great way to encourage interaction and fun.
So why not give it a try? If you’re planning a birdwatch yourself, why not invite friends or family members along too? Together you can explore your local parks and nature reserves, and discover the beauty and wonder of the bird world.
- 1 How watching birds connects us with the natural world
- 2 Bird watching increases physical activities
- 3 The impact of birdwatching on reducing sedentary behavior
- 4 Physical activity helps strengthen the immune system
- 5 Gentle exercise counts towards health
- 6 Developing upper body strength
- 7 A chance to absorb Vitamin D
- 8 Sharpening Physical Responsiveness
- 9 Can birding help with sleep?
- 10 Can bird watching help me live longer?
- 11 Will birding help with chronic pain?
- 12 A good excuse for further exploration
- 13 What bird watching wonders will you find in your local area?