More and More of our Days are Spent in our Homes
Time spent outdoors can be increased by simply incorporating some outdoor activity in place of time spent in front of computer screens. The benefits of getting outdoors are abundant. You do not need to be a marathon runner or scale mountains. Perhaps, there is a park nearby that you have not visited recently which could be a good starting point for your activity. Even, the simplest of exercise will also provide much-needed health benefits. Rather than spending free time on your computer, try visiting the local park and simply sit and absorb the sights and sounds of nature.
So, leave behind the indoor world of work and put on your sun cream or rain jacket. There is a multitude of physical and mental benefits of being in the outdoors.
- Burns more calories than sitting at a desk all day long. As we lead more sedentary lifestyles, keeping fit is more important than ever and can be incorporated into lunch breaks with a little planning.
- Supports better sleep as after exercise we normally have better-quality sleep and feel healthier the following day.
- Benefits your joints, increases flexibility and strength which is a welcome change from sitting in a chair. Walking on grass or different surfaces can be beneficial for every part of our bodies.
- Helps eyesight as your eyes are not focussed on a screen throughout the day. Our eyes like exercise too and enjoy the sensation of connecting with nature.
- May help to lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease when getting out and doing physical exercise is done on a regular basis.
- Walking meetings outdoors could be a new way to shorten those meetings which can go on too long.
- Increases fitness if the activity is continued for the longer term.
Simply getting outdoors means you have the opportunity to engage in more varied types of exercise and it is more interesting than looking at four walls.
- Exposure to sunlight in a natural environment simply makes us feel better and more relaxed. Think of how well you feel after a day relaxing at the beach or spent undisturbed in a green environment.
- Increases concentration and responsiveness by paying attention to what is around you outdoors in nature-based recreation.
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and mental fatigue by leaving behind the worries of the day for a short time. A short walk by the sea or a walk in the forest could blow away the concerns of the day for a short while.
- Can increase creative thinking and problem-solving abilities as we are exposed to new experiences when we leave our homes and see what nature has on display. Try not to concentrate on outstanding problems or issues when outdoors, just enjoy the feeling for the little time that you are out.
- Increases feelings of vitality, well-being, and happiness seeing the changes in the natural environment.
- May help to reduce feelings of isolation by being around other people in the outdoors who are going about their day.
If we could work part of our day outdoors, this would be a very healthy option.
Benefits for children.
- Children playing outdoors can develop important skills together with their playmates rather than relying on mobile devices for their playtime activities. Children naturally form into groups and engage in pretend play which can help develop their independence and social skills.
- Outdoor activities are healthier as children can absorb Vitamin D while playing especially if this is over a lengthy period on a regular basis.
- Compared to playing indoors, children usually get more vigorous exercise while running jumping or climbing out-of-doors.
- Being active outdoors can help to maintain a healthy weight in growing children while strengthening their bones and this can be as simple as a bicycle race along a challenging route around obstacles.
- Children express more freedom of imagination to invent different games to play with their friends, whether it is climbing trees or just running as fast as they can in an attempt to catch pigeons in the park.
Most children do not want to return indoors when they are playing outside with their friends which shows that it is very important for their happiness and for their ongoing development.
Planning a workable schedule to suit your needs.
Firstly, plan a workable schedule to get out in the open air.
- Check to see what parks, nature trails, river walks, castles, and beaches are in your locality that you may not have used very often in the past. In addition, outdoor gym equipment is popping up around the country in selected sites and you can get details of their locations from your local council. They are particularly useful if you are not a gym member but enjoy using the equipment.
- Initially, start with going every second day and aim to keep to your schedule. If you miss one day just jump back into your schedule and try not to abandon it.
- Set a reminder on your phone with details of what you have planned for the day. Try to think about any outdoor activities that you enjoyed in the past that can be included.
- Avoid doing the same activity each time. Very easy activities include jogging, cycling, walking, yoga, gardening, and these activities can be as long or short as you wish. They involve no membership fee nor do they have to be booked in advance. Volunteering in a community garden might be an option in your area and is very useful to learn gardening skills while being in the open air.
- Incorporate lunchtime/after work breaks. These breaks can take a different route each week and cycling/running could also be included for variety.
Lastly, check with friends to see what activities they are involved in and enjoy the sensation of being in the open whatever activity you choose.
For more inspiration, OSi has a wide selection of walking and hiking blogs available online at https://www.osi.ie/blog/