There are so many picturesque natural places in the UAE that are just waiting to be explored by you. After all, the country is filled with beautiful biodiversity that needs to be seen and protected.
Getting outside and experiencing the outdoors is a fantastic way to explore the country, while also making new friends, reaping in health and wellness benefits, and connecting with the world around you.
Whether you are looking to add more adventure activities to your life, get involved with conservation efforts, or simply want to breathe in more fresh air, here are four reasons why you need to spend more time outdoors in the UAE.
1. Boost health and wellness
One of the main reasons you should be looking to spend more time outdoors is because of the immense health benefits that it brings.
Usually, spending time outdoors involves some form of physical activity, such as walking or hiking. This results in greater fitness levels and endurance. It also helps to strengthen your immune system and decrease inflammation in the body. Research also shows that individuals who spend time outside have a reduced chance of suffering from chronic illnesses and diseases.
When you are outside, you are allowing your body to reap the benefits of Vitamin D, which is not only vital for healthy bones and tissue, but it can also help fend off various health conditions. Moreover, spending time outdoors can aid in slowing down the progression of poor vision. Finally, breathing in fresh air is vital for balancing out the poor air quality, which is a characteristic of modern urban living.
2. Improve mental health
It isn’t just your body that benefits from spending time outdoors; you will also find that your mental health significantly improves. Studies show that spending time in nature lowers your prefrontal cortex activity, which results in fewer repetitive thoughts related to negative emotions. Therefore, time spent outdoors can enhance emotional well-being, as well as boost your mood and self-esteem. It also helps to overcome depressed feelings and thought patterns.
If you are seeking to enhance creativity or sharper thinking, then the outdoors can help.
Participating in activities involving nature increases your brain’s ability to do creative problem-solving because the outdoors is a fantastic source of inspiration. Even just a short walk can aid you in improving your cognitive functions, thus enhancing your attention span and short-term memory. Similarly, the best way to reduce your cortisol levels (the hormonal marker of stress) is to spend some time outdoors.
3. Provide more social opportunities
Spending time outdoors can be a fantastic solo activity, but it also offers more opportunities for social interactions. The outdoors community is diverse; however, everyone comes together over their shared love of nature.
Getting involved with a hiking group, volunteering for a beach cleanup, or taking a mountain biking tour are just a few ways to meet new people and develop your current relationships. Additionally, if you are interested in becoming an environmental changemaker, you can get involved with programs that bring together those who are working to create positive change.
If you have children, spending time outdoors with them is vital for their growth. Not only do these experiences facilitate your child’s enjoyment of the outdoors, but they also help them to learn more effectively. When they are outside, children learn to use all their senses and push themselves to try new things. It also helps them to develop healthy habits that will stick with them for life.
4. Switch up your routine
Committing to spending more time outdoors means that you can spend more time exploring nature activities that the UAE has to offer.
You might not realize that the UAE has 43 nature reserves that constitute 14 percent of the nation’s territory. This means that there are plenty of outdoor adventures waiting to be had.
In Dubai, you can spot more than 450 animal species at the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary or hike to the top of Fossil Rock. If you are an experienced rock climber, you may want to try Wadi Ghalilah. Alternatively, if you prefer to stay on ground-level, the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) is one of the emirate’s most significant protected nature reserves, while the Dubai Miracle Garden is the biggest flower garden in the world.
On Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, you’ll have access to a landscape populated by free-roaming gazelles, while in the magnificent wetland of Al Wathba Nature Reserve, you can see flamingos and desert hares. You can also opt to visit the largest sand dunes, the Qasr Al Sarab Protected Area. Here, you’ll find the Arabian oryx, as well as many varieties of desert flora and fauna.
Do you like to spend time outdoors in the UAE? Or, is it something you want to start doing more? Where are your favorite places to go for nature?
Let us know in the comments below!
Rasha El Saleh is the Conservation Education and Outreach Coordinator in the education team of Emirates Nature-WWF working on its programme, Connect with Nature. She leads the outreach and youth empowerment aspect in growing the Connect with Nature community within the UAE and providing opportunities for youth to lead in this community, in addition to supporting partnerships with vendors supporting and promoting active aspects of the programme.