Want to add 5 years to your life? Lace up your sneakers, and head out the front door! Here are 3 reasons why spending more time outside will help you live longer:

  • First: People who exercise outdoors exercise more. According to the journal Environmental Science and Technology, people who walk outdoors exercise longer than those who use a treadmill. Because the real world is much more interesting and invigorating than the TV at the gym. And since walking’s good for your cardiovascular system, muscle tone, and sense of balance, the extra steps will pay off as you age.

  • Another reason getting outdoors helps us live longer: Most outdoor activities involve other people, and increased social connections are proven health-boosters. Psychologist Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad says we’re less likely to take health risks when we feel socially connected, like smoking or skipping doctor visits. Because being with friends gives us a sense of purpose, and motivates us to take care of ourselves.

  • Finally: Going outside lowers stress levels. Studies show that being in nature can significantly reduce stress in just 3 minutes.

  • That’s because levels of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin rise when we step out into the fresh air. Nobody’s exactly sure what causes the boost, but there’s evidence that sunlight, and even the smell of grass and plants have a calming, mood-boosting effect.

Bottom line: Spending time outside can add 5 years to your life. Unfortunately, a recent survey found that because of things like social media and computer games, most of us spend 25-percent less time outdoors than our grandparents did. So, consider this a wake-up call about your health, and find more ways to spend more time in the great outdoors.