Tips to Help You Get Outside More Often & Reap the Benefits of the Great Outdoors
How much time do you spend outside? Research shows that we’re opting for indoor activities rather than venturing out into the great outdoors. Why? Most Canadians say it's easier to stay indoors, despite knowing that nature is good for them.
So, if you’re one of the many Canadians who want to get outside more often, but can’t seem to find the time or motivation, read on to find ways to channel your inner nature-junkie by spending more time outside and reaping its many benefits.
According to a 2018 survey, Canadians spend, on average, just over an hour in nature on weekdays and up to two hours in nature on weekends. And while 90% surveyed agree they are happier when surrounded by wilderness, 75% said that staying inside is easier.
Of the reasons for staying inside more often, work and weather topped the list. Rain, extreme temperatures, and work pressures are holding Canadians back from venturing outdoors.
One-third of respondents said they don’t spend time in natural settings because they don’t like bugs, 25% said they couldn’t find the motivation to leave the city, and 7% said they don’t know what to do out in nature.
If any of these reasons for staying indoors sound familiar, consider the following reasons to spend more time outdoors and ways to make it happen (including things you can do in nature if you don’t know what to do).
Along with being straight-up awesome and channelling our inner human need to be connected with nature, being outside is good for mental health and physical health.
Here are the many benefits of natural environments on your health and well-being:
Improve your short-term memory—spending time outdoors improves fitness levels and brain function, which helps improve short-term memory.
De-stressing—spending time in nature reduces stress levels, which is beneficial for both your mental and physical well-being.
Reduces inflammation—sunlight helps trigger the body’s vitamin D production, which has many health benefits, including reducing inflammation. Inflammation can lead to serious health problems, including autoimmune disorders, depression, cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease. So it’s essential to keep your body’s inflammation in check with regular time spent outdoors.
Helps eliminate fatigue—the exposure to fresh air, natural light, and physical activity that comes with spending time outdoors can help you sleep better at night by improving your sleep rhythm. And as a result of better sleep, you can eliminate fatigue.
Help fight depression and anxiety—since being in nature reduces stress, helps boost moods, and expends energy, it can help reduce depression and anxiety as well.
Lowers blood pressure—increased physical activity and vitamin D production help to lower blood pressure and improve overall heart health.
Improve your ability to focus and your performance/creativity/clarity—since exposure to natural environments helps improve cognitive functioning and uses and nurtures the imagination, it can help enhance creativity, mental clarity, and your ability to focus.
Help prevent cancer—when the body experiences increased inflammation, it can experience many illnesses, including cancer. But spending time in nature can help reduce inflammation and its associated ailments.
Boost your immune system—the combined benefits of spending time outdoors, including reduced inflammation, physical activity, and mental well-being, all help to boost your immune system and maintain better overall health.
With so many benefits of walking in nature, spending time outdoors should be a priority. And no matter how busy you are, there are ways to squeeze outdoor time into your busy schedule
Here’s how to spend more time outside every day:
Walking or biking to work, or even just walking to catch public transit, gives you more time outdoors each day. If it’s easy to walk or bike, choose these options instead of driving so, you can enjoy the relaxing benefits of walking in nature and getting exercise.
These commuting options are less stressful than driving and being stuck in rush hour traffic. So try to commute by one of these options at least once a week, if not more, to have a more relaxing and enjoyable commute.
Spending your lunch hour outside can give you a nice break from work physically and mentally. Instead of sitting in the lunchroom or at your desk surrounded by screens and work talk, you can step outside to clear your mind for an hour each day.
If you spend a lot of time on calls during the day, consider taking these calls outdoors. You can walk and talk, getting some fresh air and exercise instead of being stuck at your desk.
Instead of walking or jogging on a treadmill at the gym, visit a local greenbelt or walking trail for refreshing outdoor exercise. You can also go for a hike or swim out in nature.
These outdoor areas make for a more enjoyable workout since they are full of trees, scenic views, and fresh air instead of sweaty people. Along with being a better setting to work out in, it is also entirely free for workout outdoors, so you can save plenty of money and avoid sweaty people.
Many of us wind down after a long day by sitting on the couch in front of the TV. But swapping our computer screens for TV screens isn’t the best way to give our minds a break.
So, in the few moments you have to unwind each day, go outside and decompress with reading, yoga, or meditation. It is much easier to do these activities outdoors than inside with many distractions. And nature provides the best environment for these restorative activities.
Podcasts are an entertaining alternative to TV shows. And you can enjoy them anywhere, including outside.
So, if you usually spend an afternoon watching TV indoors, consider finding a podcast and listening to it outdoors instead. This way, you can still enjoy entertainment but from the healing comfort of the outdoors.
Hanging in a hammock outdoors, whether on your balcony or in your yard, is the easiest and perhaps the most relaxing way to spend time outdoors. Grab a book (or a podcast), relax in your hammock, and enjoy the blissful experience of utter relaxation in the fresh air.
With winter upon us, there are plenty of fun activities to enjoy outdoors, even in the cold. The best tip for how to spend time outside in winter is to bundle up! So layer up, wear waterproof winter boots, and don’t forget a toque, scarf, and mitts.
With hectic schedules, it’s important to take time for yourself. And what better way to care for yourself than by spending some time outdoors.
Whether it’s 30 minutes or two hours a day, find simple ways to squeeze outdoor time into your schedule. Your mind and body will thank you for it.