5 Ways to Get Outside

5 Ways to Get Outside


…Even if you’re not outdoorsy.

According to outdoor supplier REI, the average American spends 95 percent of their life inside. Most of us work, study, eat and enjoy leisure activities like watching movies, all in the climate-controlled indoors. Yet study after study has shown that being out in nature has positive effects on our health, from reducing depression to lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol. So why the disconnect? For this week’s Healthy Habit, let’s look at ways to get outside that can inspire even the most “indoor cats” among us to venture out.

Time for toys. Yes, you can. Throw a Frisbee that is designed to look like a pizza, that is. Hurl that pepperoni pie and the week’s stress, along with it! Or maybe a weighted hula hoop is something you’ve been meaning to try. When was the last time you flew a kite, or played with a softball? If you have kids, they will be thrilled to join alongside you in playing, but kids aren’t necessary to have toys. Toys are simply props for joy.

Create a reading perch. Okay, so maybe a hike in Zion National Park isn’t your speed. Park it in natural splendor with a juicy book instead. Portable hammocks make rustic relaxing possible—no trees will be harmed or are even needed—and cost $50 or less. Bonus leafy points: We Are Wilderness has a free online reading club ( where the community shares ideas for nonfiction, fiction and poetry with the central theme of nature.

Pitch in. Protect the environment and commit yourself to getting outside by taking part in a volunteer project. Spend a day planting trees in Wisconsin with The Nature Conservancy. Monitor the water for whale activity off Oahu, Hawaii or Kauai as a volunteer with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Participate in the annual bird count in Maine with the Audubon Society. There is bound to be an opportunity near you.

Turn things inside out. Challenge yourself to see how many of your favorite activities can be done on grass, in a garden or other natural setting. Get tickets for an outdoor concert. Paint en plein air. Take your daily meditation or yoga practice out into the garden. Use that outdoor shower.

Forage. Take a walking class with a wild crafter to explore the wonder of edible, wild plants and medicinal herbs. Or try a session focusing on outdoor cuisine—acorn hummus, anyone? Generally you’ll need a notebook, sturdy shoes, and long pants to protect your legs.

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