Get Out! The Top 5 Benefits of Outdoor Team Building Activities

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Why escape the conference room into an even smaller room for a team building activity? A growing body of research shows that taking your colleagues outdoors provides distinct and unique advantages.

Consider these the top five benefits of taking your company into the great outdoors for great team building….

1. It lowers stress.

If possible, get some trees into your team building fun: researchers found that exposure to a forest reduces both heart rate and cortisol levels.

2. It restores your mental energy.

Long meetings and hard work brings on what researchers call “mental fatigue.” Instead of turning to coffee or Red Bull, head outdoors. One study found that just looking at photos of nature can boost people’s mental energy.

Imagine how much better the boost is when you are actually experiencing nature—a sunny day, a great park, a blue sky reflected in a pond…admit it, you feel better just thinking about it.

3. It can improve your outlook.

A shift in mood in the office can be like a fresh breeze. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a small group who strolled through nature for just 90 minutes reported a reduction in negative thoughts.

At the University of Michigan, a study found that group nature walks are linked to enhanced mental health and positivity, with lower levels of stress and depression. Meanwhile over at Glasgow University, researchers found that people who walk, bike or run in nature have a lower risk of poor mental health.

4. It improves your focus and creativity.

“Imagine a therapy that had no known side effects, was readily available, and could improve your cognitive functioning…” That’s how a 2008 paper describes “nature therapy.” After a walk in nature a group of college students executed a memory task much more accurately.

In another study, three groups each tried a different way of relaxing: relaxing in place, going for a walk in a city, and walking in nature. Afterwards, guess which group scored the best on a proofreading test? Plus a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that walking increases creative production.

5. It improves your health.

For starters, studies show that exposure to nature reduces inflammation—which can lead to a host of ills. A 2010 review of research found evidence that “forest environments have beneficial effects on human immune function.”

So go to your colleagues and shout, “Get out!” They’ll thank you for it!