Did you know that spending more time outside can…
Help you lose weight…
Make you happier…
Decrease your risk for life-threatening diseases…
Deepen your connection to the world around you?
We live in a busy, busy world, and it can be hard to fit everything in. We know exercise and healthy eating are good for us, and I think most of us know that spending time outside is important too. But it’s just one more thing to add onto an endless daily to-do list. But spending time outside doesn’t have to be an endeavor, time-consuming or even something new on your list. Here are 10 easy ways to make spending time outdoors part of your everyday life!
1. Take your workout outside. This is probably the easiest and most attainable. If you’re a runner take your run to the trails or even run outside in your neighborhood. The more green space around you, the more benefits you will receive. I try to make at least one of my runs a trail run each week and try to run outside as much as I can throughout the year (even through cold Iowa winters).
If you’re into strength training, there are a lot of body weight routines you can do at a local park. Here is a great one that only requires a park bench! If you’re a yogi like me, check and see if any of your local yoga studios or parks department offers yoga classes outside. If there isn’t an outdoor yoga class near you, you can still take your practice outside by doing sun salutations in your yard or at a park a couple of times a week for fifteen minutes.
2. Hold a meeting outdoors. Most of us spend way too much time cooped up inside an office building at a desk. Even our meetings, which are inherently social, take place around a table. See if it’s possible to take your meetings outside from time to time, or make the suggestion to your supervisor. Walking meetings in particular are known for increasing creative thinking and innovation. If you need some info to help support your case check out Feet First.
3. Plan an after dinner walk. After dinner many of us start to feel tired and ready to settle in for the night. Try taking a walk after dinner by yourself or with your family a couple of times a week to help with your digestion, get a little exercise and a few minutes outside. Even just a ten minute walk can help rejuvenate you for the rest of the evening.
4. Eat meals outside. On a beautiful morning or evening I love sitting on my front porch and eating while I listen to the birds and watch the bunnies. It’s relaxing and keeps me from zoning out in front of television while I eat. If I can get away from my desk on my lunch break I love eating my lunch down by the Des Moines River as well.
5. Ride your bike or walk to destinations less than two miles away. This study showed that 40 percent of trips are less than two miles from your home. If you live close to you job, your grocery store, your yoga studio or any other place you visit frequently consider ditching the car and walking or biking. It’s better for your health, good for the environment and easy way to get an extra 5-40 minutes of time outside–not to mention exercise!
6. Ditch the restaurant and have a picnic. Instead of doing the same old thing with friends on the weekend (i.e. out to dinner, the bars, or a movie) take your hang-out outside! You can enjoy a potluck style meal together at a park or in someone’s backyard, take a stand-up paddleboard or other outdoor class together or plan a weekend camping trip. Remember, friends who play together, stay together. I like this Fun Things to Do With Friends Pinterest board for inspiration.
7. Practice your faith outside. No matter what your spirituality is, practicing outside can help you feel more in touch with your religion and the world around you. You can pray outside, study texts outside and meditate outside. Being outdoors can help you focus and maybe inspire you to see things in a different way. Most faiths encourage some kind of care for the Earth that supports us, so you could even consider volunteering for a clean-up or invasive species removal as an act of faith.
8. Take away the screens. Often we think we are too busy to do something, but in reality we are just putting other things in front of it. Practice a no-screen rule in your home for 1-2 hours tonight and use that time to focus on the things you say you want to do. This includes going outside. You’ll find that when you commit to having no screens around (yes that includes your phone!) you will have fewer distractions and be more productive.
9. Find a new hobby. Throw yourself into a new outdoor hobby like birdwatching, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, hiking or even archery. Find something you love to do outside and it will be so much easier to make time for it. Alternatively, make a commitment to try one new activity every month or week and by the end of the year you’ll be a jack of all trades!
10. Bring outside inside. You can make your indoor spaces a little greener by having some indoor plants and images of the outdoors around you. It might not be as good as the real thing, but studies show that plants make us feel happier.