People Need to Spend More Time Outdoors

Jane Harig, Staff Writer

Would you say that you spent more time indoors or outdoors during the pandemic? It depends if you had a backyard, for one, if it was safe to go outside based on your own health as well as where you lived, and if you had time to take out of your schedule. Whether it is going for a walk or a run, heading to the park, or just sitting in the middle of a lush and ever-expanding forest, being outside is really good for you, plain and simple. 

I notice a big difference when I have a day spent indoors versus one spent mostly outdoors. I find that going outside can help clear your mind, and give you a quick brain break, and the intake of fresh air all around feels good. The sun shining on your face and being present in what is around you. There is no other feeling like it.  

Health Matters states that “spending time outside is one of the easiest ways to improve your mental health and well-being. In fact, there’s never been a better time, and bigger need, for the benefits of nature.” Maybe you do not live near the most amazing set of running or walking trails. Perhaps you don’t see a lot of trees surrounding your house. But even spending time in the outdoor air is beneficial. Health Matters also says, “You can improve your health just by soaking up the sun. Vitamin D is essential for bone growth, regulates your immune system, and can help battle depression.” 

After at-home work and learning, it is not a surprise that many people have spent much of their time staring at a screen. Health Matters tells us that “people who suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), a problem caused by staring at computers, tablets, and smartphones for long periods of time, may find that spending time outdoors can alleviate blurred and double vision, red eyes, and headaches.” 

Another bonus of the outdoors is that it is just simply there. Web MD puts it nicely by saying, “You don’t need a gym membership, transportation, or special equipment: Just walk right out your door.” Sometimes it’s not always warm outside, but the sun can still shine through the clouds, and the same article adds, “Sunlight helps keep your serotonin levels up. This helps raise your energy and keeps your mood calm, positive, and focused.” 

Playground Professionals points out that “the difference is generational – people who are now in their fifties likely spent much, if not all, of their childhood outside. But people in their twenties likely spent much more of their time indoors.” But even if you are not spending every minute of your day out in the neighborhood, it is still beneficial to give yourself time for a quick walk outdoors with music, an audiobook, a podcast, taking a hike on the weekends with friends or family, or simply forest bathing in the middle of the woods with a good book. As for mental health – well Playground Professionals also says, “There is a subtle difference between fatigue and mental fatigue. Fatigue is general and extreme exhaustion. But mental fatigue is brain exhaustion—you can’t think straight, you can’t focus, you just need a nap. That’s mental fatigue.” Sometimes when everything can feel so overwhelming, it can be nice to get outside for a walk. The fresh air will help you reset and may soothe your anxious mind.  

When in doubt, take a moment for yourself and get outside. It will help you in numerous ways, and you might just have fun.