I love the outdoors and I still kind of hang my head when I think about spending enough time outside.
I think most of us know that spending time outside if good for us.
And the science backs it up.
Studies have now found that the closer you live to a city the higher the likeliness of mental illness like anxiety and depression. And the more rural your childhood the less stress you’ll have and experience in life.
That’s pretty interesting.
Maybe you’ve also heard people say that letting kids play in the dirt is good. It turns out that there is some truth to it. Exposure to bacteria outside is great for building immune systems.
Going outdoors in bare feet is also greatly beneficial. It connects your body to the Earth where good nutrients can enter and help your body. And walking and running and moving barefoot will provide proper technique for all those movements. Shoes can negatively alter the way you walk and run and it separates your body from the benefits the ground can provide.
One more, sun is a good thing. Vitamin D is critical for a healthy life. Vitamin D helps with disease prevention. It boosts the immune system. It helps stabilize blood pressure. It helps with so many things. And the best way to get Vitamin D is from sun exposure outdoors.
Embrace The Outdoors
I think the first goal with spending more time outdoors is embracing the benefits of being outside. We spend so much time indoors with our jobs that it can feel comfortable and normal. And if we live in the city the outdoors can seem off putting. Who wants to listen to traffic and people and commotion all the time?
If your current mindset is to avoid the outdoors then the following tips probably won’t help. It starts with a positive outlook on being outdoors. Yes, there are bugs outdoors and the sun can burn you once in awhile, but the benefits far outweigh the positives.
The sun feels amazing if you get the right amount of sun each day, which I’ve read is about 20-30 minutes each day during the middle of the day if possible. That won’t burn your skin.
It’s great to walk and feel the ground on your feet and the breeze on your face. It’s good to hear the birds and the wildlife. It’s good to stare at the clouds and let your mind wander and think of new creative things.
So let’s start with getting over the mental hump of embracing the outdoors.
Now let’s get into some ways you can work the outdoors into your busy life.
One of the best things I’ve done over the last few years has been going on regular walks. My wife joins me 95% of the time. We go for at least one walk that take about 30 minutes each day. We’ll go right after our breakfast and that’s usually around about 10:00 AM. It’s kind of a little lunch break or I guess it’s more of a brunch break.
We could walk on treadmills. And that would be more appealing in the winters here in Wisconsin, but unless it’s really cold or really nasty outside we get out there and walk around our neighborhood. It’s a chance for us to get outside, get some exercise and talk to each other each day.
A few years ago I read Rod Stewart’s autobiography. One thing he mentioned in the book that really stuck with me was advice from his father and how each person would do well with one vocation, one hobby and one sport in life.
For Rod it was singing as a vocation, model trains as a hobby and soccer (football) as sport. And he’s embraced all of those throughout his life.
For the most part, sports take place outdoors. Rod plays soccer outdoors in the grass, in the sun, etc.
My sport of choice is golf, which I think is really health. You’re outdoors in the sun soaking up the Vitamin D. You’re walking on uneven terrain and getting great exercise. And it’s challenging your mental acuity because no golf shot is exactly the same. The wind changes. The temperature changes. The grass changes. You’re always working on something new.
This past summer I wanted to spend more time outdoors during the middle of the day. I wanted to soak in about 20-30 minutes of midday sun on as much skin as possible each day or for a few days each week.
I looked at a few things that I did everyday anyway and looked to see if I could do them outdoors. It turned out that I liked reading everyday and I usually had a podcast that I wanted to listen to.
So instead of sitting on the couch for those activities I would go outside.
I also know that many people have taken to eating all their meals outside. Maybe a bug or two bother you, but that’s another everyday thing that you could easily do outdoors at least when the weather is nice.
It’s simple, but sometimes the idea of something new can turn us off. And if we don’t like the new thing then we’re going to lose the drive to get outdoors.
If you can take something you already enjoy and do it outdoors you’re more likely to keep doing it.
Being outdoors is beneficial for a good life. I think we all know it. And I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to not spending enough time outdoors. But I’ve been trying to work more outdoor time into my schedule. The tips above are things that have worked for me and hopefully they can work for you too.