Guest post by Abigail Golder
Abby is a recent college graduate from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism with a strong passion for travel and outdoors adventures. She is a Freelance Content Writer who loves to share a great story. Originally from Colorado, Abigail grew up in a small town called Montrose and she still spends much of her free time in the mountains hiking and skiing.
Get out and walk this Spring!
Statistically, more of us are living sedentary lifestyles. With a rise in sedentary jobs by over 80 percent since 1950 and the advent of streaming services on smartphones, doing more means moving less. A recent Mayo Clinic analysis of over a dozen scientific studies found that “sitting time and activity levels found in those who sat for more than 8 hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.”
Luckily, there’s an affordable, accessible and fun cure: spending time outside.
You can stave off health problems in just two easy steps: putting on some comfortable shoes and spending time outdoors this spring. Reducing your risks from an unhealthy lifestyle isn’t the only benefit to soaking up the sun. Here are five more reasons you should be spending time outside this spring.
Spending time outdoors has health benefits
Government agencies and researchers recommend adults spend at least 150 minutes doing moderately intense physical activity every week. That means saving just over 20 minutes every day for a walk or jog around the block. Not only will brief stretches of physical activity help you live longer, but research shows that being outdoors can boost your mood, give you an energy boost, provides stress relief, improve your immune system and enhance your creativity.
If you’re having trouble finding 20 minutes in the middle of the day, marry your outdoor time with another activity, like taking a phone call or having lunch.
No adventure is ever the same
Even during your short, outdoor excursions, like your regular walk around the block to get coffee with a coworker, walking is never the same. The weather changes, the grounds change and maybe you’ll meet someone along the way. Once or twice, you stop and help someone with directions.
No adventure you take outside is ever the same because there are so many more variables and factors that aren’t available when you’re sitting inside. That’s one of the reasons why going outside is great for improving your creativity. The variations in depths, widths, colors, temperatures, and smells flow through your mind and find their way into the puzzle you’re trying to solve. That’s true whether the project includes creating an email campaign or making a budget for your new contract.
Discover new, healthy hobbies
Some outdoor hobbies and sports are expensive. Companies may try to sell you on the latest and greatest sporting, hiking and recreational equipment. That said, the best thing you can do if you’re new to outdoor activities is to explore all the options available in your area.
Remember: not all outdoor hobbies need to be things that make you exhausted and sweaty (although in terms of getting in physical activity, you should try those out too). You can, for example, take an indoor activity like sketching, reading or woodwork, and do it outside. As you get more comfortable with spending time outdoors, you’ll start to gravitate towards more physical activities.
Nature is free
A pair of skis: $500. Kayak with paddles: $650. Hiking boots: $120. By comparison, your $12 Netflix subscription seems pretty cheap, right? Not exactly. If you spend too much time sitting around and watching TV, your risk for health problems skyrockets. In addition to your $12 streaming subscription, there is an increased risk for obesity, type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, mental health treatment and more.
While all that outdoor gear you see people donning on their weekend outdoor excursions may be expensive, it’s also optional. You don’t need to buy any gear to enjoy a day at the park. You don’t even need to pay for entry into most parks—most local and state parks, for example, are free. All National Parks have at least five fee-free days. Those aren’t the only days National Parks are free—with over 400 locations throughout the country, your local National Park may have additional free days.
If you really do want to spend money, however, you don’t even need to spend much on all that fancy equipment. Many state and national parks have on-site equipment rentals available – from kayaks, boats, and tubes to snowshoes.
Teach children to appreciate nature
A less measurable effect of spending time outdoors is what it does for one’s appreciation of nature. Children, in particular, should be encouraged to spend time outdoors, because their early childhood activities and memories create lifelong pathways that affect their future. By venturing outdoors with them, you do a valuable service to them and society by instilling an appreciation for the beauty and complexity of nature.
So what are you waiting for?
While spring is likely filled with busy work and school days, along with endless chores, it’s important to make time for your health. Take a break from Marie Kondo and hire someone else to wash your windows. Nature is out there waiting for you to partake in its beauty. How you choose to engage with nature is your choice, but you can maximize your time by sharing with your family and friends so they can join you on your adventures!