5 Things To Do If You Want To Spend More Time With Nature

I consider myself an active person. I’m always up to try a new adventure or experience, I like to run and bike outdoors, and I never mind walking instead of taking the subway when my destination is just one or two stops away. But if I’m being honest, I have to admit that there are some days I don’t see the light of day between the hours of 9am and 6:30pm. (Well, maybe I’ll catch a glimpse of daylight out the window, but that’s not really the point).

If being cooped up inside for nine hours everyday sounds normal to you, well, that’s because it is. The modern workday often calls for spending the majority of your day indoors. And while it may seem typical, that’s a really long time. It also points to a larger trend of adults spending less and less time outdoors. In fact, a 2016 study found that the national average of time adults spend outdoors in a day is just five percent. This low number includes day-to-day activities like walking to your car or the bus, which means that much of this time spent outside isn’t even quality time — it’s simply a means to an end.

It’s no secret that there are endless health benefits to spending more time outside, like higher levels of vitamin D, exercise, and reduced stress levels. So why not try to increase that ‘five percent,’ and start reaping the benefits ourselves?

We partnered with REI to bring you five unique ways to get outside more often.

1. Take Your Workout Outdoors

If you’re a dedicated gym-goer, now is the time to rethink your approach to working out. Why not get those endorphins and physical gains from a sweat under the sun, instead of from an elliptical? Studies show that outdoor physical activity has a 50 percent more positive effect on your mental health versus simply hitting the gym.

If you’re a cardio master, look into joining a local beginners running group that’ll take you off of the treadmill and into the vibrant streets and scenic trails. If you’re always in the front row of your cycling class, start biking in a nearby park instead. And if group fitness is your thing, look for an outdoor bootcamp in your area — the endorphins combined with the fresh air will do wonders for your workout.

2. Plan A Picnic In Your Local Park

Hosting a picturesque picnic won’t just help you spend extra time in the open air — it will also probably save you some serious cash! Ditch the boozy brunch, and invite your friends to join a potluck-style picnic in a local park. Encourage your buddies to bring a variety of backyard games (Frisbee, anyone?) so you can maximize your hang time after indulging in delicious food.

3. Become a Clean Air Commuter

Sure, cars and public transportation are convenient. But what’s even more convenient is operating on your own schedule and never having to search for a parking spot (or worse, having to parallel park!).

When your destination is close enough, commit to biking, walking, or running there versus calling a car or taking the express bus. Not only are these options better for the environment, but you’ll also get the added benefits of exercise, vitamin D, and an improved mood.

4. Join A New Community

As adults, it’s easy to get stuck in our routines, but it can prevent us from trying new things. And when we do think about expanding our interests, it’s hard to get involved in new activities — especially outdoor recreational pursuits that involve complicated equipment and professional instruction like rock climbing, surfing, or hiking.

But even if you find yourself feeling intimidated, it pays to get outdoors: More time outside means less screen time and more exercise. Find a local group or organization in your area specifically for individuals interested in your sport of choice, and show up to their next meet up. If you’re having trouble finding a group you mesh with, your local REI hosts instructional classes like backpacking basics, as well as day and overnight camping and hiking trips to help you master new skills amongst new friends while under the careful eye of expert supervision.

If the thought of making new friends as an adult seems scary, know this: Having a similar interest can actually strengthen your bond. And actually doing that activity together can create meaningful memories that will solidify your friendship.

5. Embark On A Rugged Excursion

Who doesn’t want to visit all of the beautiful mountaintops and trailheads we see all over social media? While spending a weekend in the great outdoors sounds amazing, there’s actually a ton of planning, equipment, and attention to detail that goes into making your experience a success.

Whether you’re new to the outdoors or just looking to meet more likeminded people, sign up for one of REI’s Outessa Retreats. Designed for women of all levels of outdoor experience, these retreats offer fresh air experiences and adventures in a casual and inclusive setting. Try your hand at new, rugged activities (think: rock climbing, kayaking, or hiking) under the supervision of expert and certified outdoor guides, exercise your brain at a creative workshop, and cuddle up by the campfire (with s’mores!) at night. What more could a girl ask for?

This post is sponsored by REI.