Go Outside: It’ll Change Your Life (According To Science)

I’ve always been an “indoors” person.

I never was particularly interested in going outside. As a child, I begrudgingly went to my brother’s baseball practices with my mom. My memories growing up are centered around all the time I spent curled up in my bed into the wee hours of the night finishing a book because I just had to. I was never interested in playing a sport or exploring the woods, and my skin burnt to a crisp at the beach, even with the highest of SPFs.

I’d decided I was an indoors person a long time ago, so I stayed indoors. And as I’ve gotten older, technology has become more expansive (and invasive) and now it’s so easy to live an entire life built from your couch.

We know that sitting in front of our screens in a dimly lit bedroom all week isn’t exactly great for our mental and physical health. But have you ever done any research to see just how much going outside can make tangible change for you?

“Our brains, he says, aren’t tireless three-pound machines; they’re easily fatigued. When we slow down, stop the busywork, and take in beautiful natural surroundings, not only do we feel restored, but our mental performance improves too,” David Strayer told Florence Williams in a National Geographic article.

And that’s exactly how I feel now that I’ve been spending all the time I can sitting outside, with no more than a folding chair in my yard. For the first time in a while, I feel content to just sit. Not to be scrolling aimlessly through all my social media apps or watching another video on YouTube. It sounds different out here. All that background noise I’m used to is gone. My porch, maybe twenty steps from my couch, feels like a completely different world, one where I read or think or write in a way I just can’t do under the fluorescent lights indoors. I feel more creative, more alive, more relaxed.

But most adults don’t spend a lot of time outside at all.

“According to research by the Harvard School of Public Health, American adults spend less time outdoors than they do inside vehicles—less than 5 percent of their day,” this article says.

That kind of statistic sounds so shocking, but when you’re wrapped up in life, you don’t even realize you’re spending all your time indoors.

As I’ve been learning in the past couple weeks, there’s plenty of easy ways to incorporate getting outdoors into your daily life. These are some pretty painless suggestions:

  • Take a walk around your neighborhood in the evening instead of clicking “yes, I’m still watching” on Netflix. Commit to getting your 10,000 steps a day.
  • Ask your coworkers or friends to move lunch outdoors and claim a picnic table as your own. Make it a tradition and give yourself something to look forward to.
  • Drag a foldable chair to your front porch and just sit. I’m serious! I’ve gotten more content (and tan).
  • Find a bike, scooter, skateboard, rollerblades — whatever you like, and carve out time to explore any bike trails for uninterrupted riding time. You can look for routes near to you here.
  • Commit to trying your best to catch the sunrise or the sunset. It’s something that will never get old.

Take whatever spare time you can get and turn it into something that will inspire you and boost your spirit. There’s a magic in seeing beyond the four walls that house us and the screens that captivate us. It’s so hard to drag yourself out of that bubble, but since I have, I can genuinely tell you it’s the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time.

Featured image by Tess Pesicka

News Reporter

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