Activities and the Outdoors

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If you ask my parents, I don’t get outdoors enough. When I’m at home, they say I need to get off the computer (I’m a gamer) and go outside. They assume I have the same habits at school, even though I try to tell them I don’t.

But maybe I do, because my friends tease me (in a friendly way) about the same stuff. I have a pretty good social life, I think, but I mostly stick to other peoples’ dorm rooms. And it’s true enough that I don’t go outside and exercise or play sports. I’m not antisocial, but maybe I should be better about getting outside in the sun, just for health reasons and stuff. Experts, I know I should go outside, but how important is it, really? And if it is important, how can I make myself get out there more?

It is absolutely important to go outside in the sun. Humans were not intended to live only by artificial light, and there are some very real health benefits to catching some rays and enjoying some fresh air, assure physicians at Beaverton, Oregon’s Neighborhood Health Center. It’s good for your physical health, because the ultraviolet rays in sunlight stimulate your skin to produce Vitamin D, which is good for your bones. And your mental health is affected by sunlight, too: exposure to sunlight is thought to stimulate production of serotonin, a vital hormone that helps to boost your mood. That’s why dark winters can trigger a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you’re inside all of the time, then you could be depressing your mood.

So how can you get out more? Well, it’s going to come down to willpower, but there are things that can make it easier. You say you have a good social life, and it seems that your friends spend sufficient time outside (or at least they believe they do, since they feel qualified to critique your habits!). Why not make your next get-together an outdoor event? There are plenty of unique and fun things to do in outdoor settings, as the staff at Tree 2 Tree Adventure park in Gaston, Oregon explained to us. You could take a trip to an amusement park or outdoor adventure park. Or you could take advantage of the many simple and free outdoor amusements available to us, like hiking.

Though you don’t say so in your letter, it’s always possible that you have some anxieties about heading outdoors. If you don’t think a crowd will help, perhaps you should head out with just one trusted friend. Or you could adventure out by yourself, taking small steps like choosing to take the long way when heading to and from class (and therefore spending more time walking outside). If you have serious anxieties about being outdoors, consider speaking to a therapist.

You should also consider the many activities you can do outdoors that are good for your health in other ways. Outside, you have more room to exercise in ways that are (to most of us) a bit more engaging than doing sit-ups in your dorm room. Consider taking up jogging or joining an intramural sports league. Experts recommend that adults get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

It is important to get outside, and it’s important to get regular exercise. How you change your habits will depend on your personal preferences and concerns, but you should absolutely make an attempt to improve your lifestyle and add more outdoor time.

“How can our kids really understand the more complexities of being alive if they are not allowed to engage in those complexities outdoors?” – Richard Louv

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