14 Easy Ways to Spend
More Time Outdoors
BY DAVID YOUNG
The good news is, you don’t need to spend hours climbing mountains or trekking through nature reserves to reap the benefits of being outside. In fact, studies show studies show that spending just five minutes outdoors can improve your morale. And there are tons of other health benefits of being outside too, including reduced anxiety, better sleep, increased vitamin D, weight loss, and improved focus. Some therapists even prescribe time outdoors as part of their treatment plans, a practice known as ecotherapy.
With a little focus and the right gear, you can make the outdoors part of your daily life. So lace up your shoes, grab your sunglasses, and get ready to spend more time enjoying the great outdoors.
2. Replace the gym – With the pandemic, nature has become the new gym for a lot of people. So why not join them and skip the hot, overcrowded fitness club? There are plenty of exercises you can do outside, including running, walking, cycling, and stair climbing. Even if you still go to the gym a few days a week, substituting part of your fitness routine with outdoor cardio will make all the difference. From basketball to soccer, tennis to pickleball, the ways to exercise outdoors are endless.
3. Park far away– Another simple way to get outside every day is to park farther away than you normally do. Instead of wasting time (and fuel) as you circle for the best spot, park a few blocks away and enjoy a nice stroll to your destination. You can do this anywhere you park, whether it’s at work, school, the grocery store, or a friend’s house. Practice this wherever you go and over time it will add up.
4. Shop at farmers markets – The next time you need some fresh fruit or produce, skip the grocery store and buy as much of your food as you can at local farmers markets. Check your area’s schedule to see where they are and hit several a week if you can. Not only will this help you get outside more, you’ll eat better too.
6. Get a dog – A four-legged friend is always great motivation to get outside. Even if it’s just for a short walk or game of fetch, having a pooch will ensure that you get outside at least once or twice a day. And things like hiking, running, or exercising outdoors are always more enjoyable with a pup at your side—not to mention the heartwarming companionship.
7. Redecorate your porch – Creating a space that you love outside is a wonderful way to motivate yourself to spend more time out there. Whether it’s a plush chair, a fire pit, relaxing fountain, hammock, or umbrella, adding a comfortable spot to your outdoor environment will encourage you to get outside to enjoy it.
8. Plant a garden – Ever wonder if you have a green thumb? Starting a garden is an excellent way to find out. Whether it’s veggies or flowers, tending to a garden forces you to spend more time outdoors by having to care for it regularly. Plus, at the end of the day you’ll have something to show for all of your hard work.
10. Get off the bus or subway a few stops early – Do you use some form of public transportation to get around? Another easy way to spend more time outside is to get off a few stops early. By walking the last few blocks to your destination, you’ll log more time outdoors while also having a chance to explore and get some exercise while you’re at it. Start small and work your way up and it will soon become a habit you enjoy.
11. Learn an outdoor hobby – Hiking, fishing, trail running, and skiing are only a handful of the many outdoor hobbies to choose from. The list is endless, so create your own outdoor adventures. Once you've gained the skills and invested the right gear for your chosen sport, the outdoors will become your second home.
12. Plan an outdoor movie night – Who doesn’t love a movie night? But rather than sitting in front of the television or in a dark movie theater, consider taking the big screen outside. Hang a sheet on the garage door or between trees in the backyard, roll out a projector, and enjoy a lovely outdoor cinema.
14. Commit to 15 minutes a day – Whatever you do, try committing to spending at least 15 minutes a day outside. Over time, these small increments add up. You can even make a game out of it by tracking your outside streaks. Create a reminder on your watch or phone and treat yourself to a reward after 30 consecutive days. Your well-being is well worth the investment.