Well, we made it (pretty much). The pandemic is on the wane and people are once again returning to activities that have come to seem in the distant past. Seeing friends, hugging grandparents, going back to restaurants and gyms are at the top of most people’s minds…but have you thought about just getting outdoors?
The pure, unadulterated joy of a sunny day, with a soft breeze cooling your face, can awaken senses that may have gone dormant over the past year and a half. And it’s good for you, too: countless articles and studies have been published about the health and emotional benefits of being outdoors, whether it’s a vigorous hike up a mountain trail or quietly leaning against a shade tree simply gazing at the sky.
Here are some of the really great things you can look forward to when you once again venture outdoors:
Have a bike? Now’s the time to dust it off, check the tire pressure, and head out to the nearest bike trail or park. According to Healthline, riding a bike builds strength, boosts cardiovascular function, and improves posture, balance, and coordination. Riding may even help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes and counteract the adverse effects of cancer treatment. Plus, biking is environmentally friendly and just plain feels good. If you don’t already have a bike, many cities host public rental bikes, like B-Cycle, that you can try out for an hour or two. Remember, you never forget how to ride a bike!
Local, state, or national, everyone loves a park. Spending just two hours a week outside is associated with good health and well being, and with 59 national parks to choose from, you probably live within reasonable driving distance of at least one. Loveholidays.com has some great tips for enjoying national parks responsibly. Outdoorsy.com has compiled a convenient list of all state parks in the U.S. If a road trip isn’t in your immediate future, don’t overlook local parks. Most larger cities have parks with recreation facilities and a wide variety of free or low-cost programs for kids and adults, and even smaller towns have benches and walkways where you can soak up some quiet time or exercise.
- Speaking of exercise, you may have been taking online exercise classes or workouts during the pandemic, but we all know that leaves a lot to be desired. Now that it’s summer, many classes have moved outdoors, and you might be surprised at how being outside can heighten the experience and focus your awareness. Taking a yoga or tai chi class outdoors, with the birds chirping and the leaves rustling, will make a workout no longer a chore but almost a spiritual experience. Highly recommended.
Find Yourself in Nature
This is the time of year when flowers are blooming everywhere, so get outside and take a deep breath, then several more. Linden trees, peony, lilac, jasmine, magnolia, and honeysuckle are just a few of Mother Nature’s aromatic delights, with more to come throughout the summer.
Now’s the time to really delve into nature and do more than just “wake up and smell the roses.” Get out a magnifying glass, lie flat on the grass, and study the bustling life around you. You’ll be amazed at what you can observe and learn about your place in the cosmos.
In short, it’s not called “the great outdoors” for nothing. Now’s the time to go outside — to BE outside — and reawaken your deeper self.