It’s easy to want to snuggle underneath your blanket and read a good book while you know the air outside has a chill to it. It’s even easier to want to stay in the air conditioning when it gets hot out in the summer. But no matter the weather (unless it's extreme), there’s always a good reason to get up and go outdoors. Not only does the sun feel good on your face, but there really is a lot to be said for a breath of fresh air!
Below, Ranger Mac will go over the benefits of getting out of the house more and list a few simple ways to change your routine that will get you outdoors more in your everyday life without even realizing you are doing it!
The Health Benefits of Nature
There have been several research studies done that show that getting outdoors works like a natural medicine. More than just the benefits of vitamin D from the sun, there are several ways that spending time in nature can have a positive health impact:
Improved Mental Clarity - A study published in the journal Environment and Behavior showed that children who were exposed to a more green environment tended to have higher levels of cognitive functioning. A simple walk outdoors can lead to better mental health and clarity as well!
Natural Pain Relief - Another study done in 2005 and published in Psychosomatic Medicine found that patients who were recovering from back surgery required less pain medication if they were placed in a room with more sunlight.
Less Stress - A simple walk around your neighborhood park or along a trail at your local nature reserve can do wonders for bringing down your stress levels. Everything from the sounds, sights, and smells to the sunlight can help your body and mind relax into a more calming state. This is supported by a study published in Physiology & Behavior in 2013.
Take Your Daily Habits Outdoors
If it’s a nice day, why not sip your morning coffee outside? Take your laptop or cellphone out and check your emails in the fresh air. Toss your yoga mat out on your deck and get your morning exercise done with the breeze blowing across your face.
If you don’t have a porch or deck where you can do these things outdoors, simply find a nice sunny spot in your home where you can open the window and get yourself as close to the outdoors as you can while you do your daily routine. Simply sensing the outdoors while you do mundane daily tasks can put a pleasant spin on your day and maybe make it a bit more enjoyable!
Here are some more easy ways to sneak more time outdoors into your schedule:
Take a Walk
Just a simple walk around the block can help you de-stress and get some good fresh air and sunshine. This is a great way to start your day if you take your stroll first thing in the morning, or you can use it as a time to sort out the issues that arose during the day. Find walking too boring on its own? Try listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook while you go!
Walking your dog is also another way to get outdoors more. Instead of just letting the dog out to run around the backyard, consider taking it for a walk. The exercise and sunshine will do them some good too. This way you and your pet can get some great exercise together!
Need to meet up with a friend? Suggest meeting someplace where you can enjoy the outdoors! Meet up at a local park after you grab some coffee. Grab some food and have a little impromptu picnic. This will not only give you some quality time with your friend, but it offers both of you the chance to enjoy the outdoors together.
Go Outdoors as Your Break
If you need to take a break at work or even a break from your busy home life, going outdoors can help. If you work close to a walking trail or park, take your lunch to a picnic table and enjoy a short walk. This will help you relax, clear your mind, and de-stress before you go back to work and tackle the second half of your day. Even if there aren’t any parks nearby, you can always take a walk around the block.
Pick Up a Hobby
Use your breaks outdoors to take some pictures of nature, watch some birds, or learn about native plants. Finding an outdoor hobby like this will make you want to get outdoors more often!
Schedule Your Outdoor Time
As you plan out your following week, go ahead and pencil in a walk around your local park or a stop by the local nature reserve. If you hold to your schedule, this can be a great way for you to make sure you get in that time outdoors. It’s also helpful to plan out your outdoor time when you have a busy family schedule you need to follow. Everyone can enjoy the benefits of going outdoors while also enjoying some quality family time together!
Scheduling in the outdoor time can also help you with your exercise goals. A walk around the park can all of a sudden make exercising seem more like a fun activity you scheduled instead of getting in those 3 miles you promised yourself. Think of this scheduled time as a relaxing thing you need to have a successful week!
The bottom line is to go outdoors whenever possible. Even during those cold and hot months, you can bundle up and take your dog for a walk or wake up a little early and take a quick stroll around the block. If it’s just too bitterly cold or blisteringly hot for that, find a sunlit room and enjoy the sun shining in the room. Going outside is free, and the proven health benefits are endless. Your mind and body will thank you for experiencing the outdoors, and you’re sure to find some great local areas for hiking and taking a quick walk around your community. Get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer!
If you feel like progressing into a more strenuous outdoor activity, but don’t know where to start, check out Ranger Mac’s blog on backpacking basics here!