Americans spend endless amounts of money to improve their health. They diet, they visit gyms, they pay doctors, they read self-help books—all in search of something that will guarantee health for years to come.

And it is no wonder. The U.S. has some of the highest rates of cancer in the world. One-third of Americans are considered obese. Men and women in the U.S. consistently rank close to last when it comes to life expectancy. This is due to factors such as heart disease, chronic lung disease, obesity and diabetes, injuries and homicides, and sexually transmitted diseases.

But did you know that you could up your chances of staying healthy by forcing yourself to get outdoors for several minutes each day?

Numerous studies have shown that getting fresh air every day has a multitude of benefits. Breathing more oxygen into your lungs helps your airways dilate and cleanses your lungs. As you exhale, you let out toxins from your body. Accumulated toxins make you feel stressed, so getting rid of them improves your heart rate and blood pressure.

Taking in fresh air has also been attributed to strengthening your immunity to illness, better sleep, improved digestion, and even a person’s overall level of happiness as oxygen intake increases the release of serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone, which can help lighten your mood.

In addition, it helps you think more clearly since the brain needs 20 percent of the body’s oxygen. And more oxygen to your brain means that you can better concentrate on tasks and think more clearly.

Being outside is good for your mental health, too. A 2016 study published in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, found that living in or near green areas resulted in longer life expectancy.

Clearly, getting outdoors to breath fresh air is important. So how can you force yourself to do it more? By investing in your outdoor space. 

Investing in your outdoor space is akin to investing in your health. An attractive outdoor space makes you want to go outside. And if you feel like going outside, you are more likely to do it.

This might require revamping an existing patio space if you have one by purchasing some comfortable furniture for your patio or installing a retractable awning, which will allow you to be able to stay outside, even in the heat of the day.

While retractable awnings are not generally connected to health, the truth is, they should be! They much do more than just provide shade—they give you a lot more reasons to get outside. What is great about retractable shades for patio is that almost anyone can put them on their home, apartment, or condo. They provide a place for you to sit and get fresh air without being bothered by the sun. Most protect from up to 98 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays while still allowing you to soak up Vitamin D.

Retractable awnings also have the adding bonus of giving you a place to go. Sometimes it just feels too hot to go outside. When you sit under an awning, however, the shade feels cool, oftentimes, they make the heat that much more tolerable. That makes you want to stay outside even longer, which means you will breathe in the even more fresh air. And even though it might feel as though it is too hot to go outdoors, getting out of your air-conditioned house allows you to breathe greater amounts of fresh air instead of recirculated, stagnant air.

Placing plants is another great way to spur yourself outdoors. Not only do they make your space attractive, which in turn makes you want to spend time there, but they also force you to go outside to water and take care of them.

So head outdoors and take a deep breath. Then do it every day, over and over again as much as you can. It just might lengthen your life.