There’s one thing that doesn’t change, no matter what time of year it is: Fresh air will make you happier and healthier. Whether you’re snowshoeing along a local trail or running down a nearby bike path, you’re enjoying a long list of benefits including getting a rush of vitamin D and breathing fresh air into your lungs.
But the benefits don’t stop there. See why the outside is calling your name and how to answer with, “Be right there!”
Why Go Outside?
Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors, according to Harvard Medical School. However, everyone young and old can benefit from being outside, especially babies and young children. Here’s why you, and your family if you have children, should find time to get outside once a day:
- Nature walks are linked to improved mental health, including reduced incidents of depression and perceived stress, according to a University of Michigan study.
- Children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces, making time in your backyard just as valuable as a hike or walk.
- Being outside reduces overstimulation of your brain and restores the effectiveness of your cognitive abilities thanks to the natural versus urban environment, according to The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting With Nature.
- There are few foods with vitamin D, and as such, we need to get 80-90 percent of this important vitamin from sunshine. Being outside without sun protection—the only way for your skin to drink up the vitamin D—for just 10-15 minutes will give you the boost your body needs.
How to Get Outside Every Day
No matter what you like to do, there’s always a way to enjoy the outdoors while you do it. Don’t miss an opportunity to get outside with these simple ideas:
- Walk during your lunch break.
- Take a sunrise nature walk before work.
- Run outside instead of inside one day a week in the spring, summer and fall.
- Cross country ski, bike or snowshoe to work (if possible).
- Sit outside to read a book, play cards, or wind down at the end of the day.
- Bring date night to a local lookout for the sunset.
Fun Outdoor Weekend Adventures
While you can walk, run, hike or bike outside any day of the week, the weekends present an opportunity to try something more exciting. Here are some fun ways to enjoy the great outdoors with the few days you have off every week.
Cook Outside: The sun stays out later in the summer; take advantage and cook dinner outside. Or, spend the afternoon outside and grill your lunch instead.
Rent a boat: You don’t need to rent an expensive motorboat. Look for opportunities to rent a paddleboat, rowboat, jet ski or paddleboard for a fun afternoon on the water.
Take a Volunteer Hiking Trip: You can spend anywhere from one day to two weeks cleaning trails anywhere in the country—think: pulling out invasive species, planting new trees, building small bridges. Check websites like REI, TrailCrew.org and the Sierra Club to find a trip that sounds exciting to you.
Take a Family Rafting Trip: Instead of staying at a hotel and going to an expensive theme park, camp and go white water rafting with your family. There are many regions of the United States where rafting is possible, such as Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.
There’s almost always an opportunity to get outside, even if it’s to shovel the driveway in the middle of a snowstorm. Find a way to breathe in the fresh air at least once a day to enjoy less stress, improved cognitive abilities and much-needed vitamin D.