Science has already proven the many benefits of being outdoors, and I’ve talked about a few before as well. Spending time outside, especially in natural, green, wild spaces, positively affects us physically, mentally, and emotionally. While I’m currently struggling to deal with the fact that it’s the end of August, I’m trying to focus on taking as much advantage of the fair weather as possible while it’s still here. You can go on your own, take your family, or invite some friends. Just get outside, and enjoy the benefits that will follow. These are ten fun and free* ways to enjoy the outdoors.
1. Identify Plants
Go the library to pick up a native plant guide or download a plant identification app on your phone. On your next walk take a closer look at the world around you. Pay attention to leaves, flowers, colours, and shapes in order to identify and learn more about the flora thriving where you live.
2. Have a Picnic
This could simply be taking your breakfast outside to eat in your yard or packing up a meal to take to a beach, trail, park, etc. Without out the normal daily distractions going on all around, you can focus on eating and really enjoy the food.
3. Go Foraging
Find out what native edibles grow wild in your area. Where I live I can find blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and tons of saskatoon berries. Go out foraging and spend time picking this free food. You could even add your goodies to the picnic above. Just ensure you can correctly identify anything before ingesting it.
4. Read a Book Outdoors
This is one of my favourite pastimes which I personally find so rejuvenating. You can stay at home on your deck or head down to the beach, just go anywhere outside. Get lost in the story while breathing fresh air and soaking up some vitamin D.
5. Sleep Outside
Camping comes to mind first for me, but this could also been done simply in a backyard. Listen to the sounds of the nocturnal creatures. Gaze up at the stars in the night sky. Get a book or download an app on your phone to spot certain stars, planets, and constellations. Make up your own constellation pictures and stories to go along with them.
6. Kick Off Your Shoes
Go for a walk outside in your bare feet. This connection to the earth actually neutralizes the electrical make up of our body. This process is called earthing and has many benefits including reduced muscle stiffness, elimination of chronic joint pain, improved sleep, and more.
7. Discover Signs of Wildlife
Head back to your library for a book on animal tracks and signs or download an animal tracks app on your phone. Go for a hike and look for those footprints big and small out and around you. I find I am more successful at spotting tracks in the winter, but there are different signs of wildlife around at all times of the year.
8. Grow a Garden
I love spending time in the garden. There is something so relaxing and satisfying about sowing seeds and watching the plants grow. If you don’t have a yard, you could do container gardening, a herb garden in your windowsill, share with a friend who has a yard, or join your local community garden. *This has a little bit of a start up cost, but it can be done inexpensively.
9. Maintain a Bird Feeder
Set up a bird feeder outside your home and enjoy the sights and sounds of your new visitors. Again, grab a book or download an app that will allow you to identify and learn about the different species hanging out with you. You could even learn their different calls and songs. *This is another with a very small cost at the beginning but is still inexpensive.
10. Get Out to Work Out
Running, hiking, biking are all simple choices for exercising outside. You could also swim in a lake instead of the pool. Or head over to a field or playground to do body weight exercises and practice those chin ups on the monkey bars. If you’ve already got a membership, gyms will often offer yoga or boot camp classes outside as well.
What’s your favourite way to spend time outdoors?