“Take a hike!” Once upon a time, your mom may have ushered you out of the house with these words when you complained you were bored. She was definitely onto something.

Spending more time outdoors is a great way to boost your mental health, whatever your age. Step away from the computer, put down that remote and get in touch with your natural surroundings. Your body and mind will thank you.

In celebration of Earth Day, Arbor Day or any other day, here’s how and why nature is good for you:

You can soak up vitamin D

Vitamin D is not present in very many foods, but it is present in ultraviolet rays from the sun. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, which is important for bone health, as well as activating the genes in your body that release happy hormones like dopamine and serotonin.

So, if you’ve ever found that you feel just a bit happier when you’re outside, you probably have the sun to thank. The sights and smells of blossoming flowers and freshly mowed grass while feeling the sunshine on your face feels great for your spirit not only because you enjoy them, but also because vitamin D is giving your body a mood boost.

For a full mind-body-soul boost, try taking a bike ride down a new route or play a game of baseball in a park you haven’t been to before. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week for cardiovascular and overall health, so try and fit your time in with some sunshine for a vitamin D boost.

You have the opportunity to unplug

No one can dispute how much technology and the Internet has made everyday life easier. However, lives run by technology can cause us to be too sedentary, which can lead to neck and back strain, weight gain, high blood pressure and even an increased risk for several types of cancer.

Break free from your phone and laptop by leaving them inside when you go outside. Students at the University of Maryland found they felt “relaxed, care-free, peaceful, serene and mellow” after a full day without media. The next time you have news to discuss with your best friend, try to schedule an after-work walk with them rather than an unending text conversation dotted with emojis.

In everyday life, make time to connect with your natural surroundings and with people face-to-face. As convenient as our lives have become, nothing can replace firsthand experience and interpersonal bonds.

You can get an energy boost

Did you know that spending time in fresh air increases your energy? It’s true for about 90 percent of people, according to research from the Journal of Environmental Psychology. If you feel like you could use a boost, head outside for a few minutes and take a deep breath instead of reaching for another cup of coffee.

Just be careful about where you’re reenergizing. Air pollution is a problem in many major cities and can cause people to feel like their eyes, noses and throats are burning, in addition to other adverse effects on the lungs. Head into a national park, forest or other nature preserves to enjoy fresh air that’s been filtered through trees and other plants by photosynthesis for the cleanest air.

The next time you’re feeling overworked, stressed or just cooped up, head outside for some fresh air and natural sunlight that’s sure to improve your mood and your overall well-being. You can thank your mother — or at least Mother Nature.