15 Reasons to Get Active in the Great Outdoors

In recognition of today as summer’s official start-date, say hello to the limitless playground that is Mother Nature!

Go on, get out there…here’s why you should:


1. Increased exposure to fresh air allows the respiratory, cardiovascular, and circulatory systems to function at their optimum.

2. Being surrounded by nature – particularly plant life – has been proven to reduce anxiety, stress, and clinical depression.

3. Healing powers in both the ground and atmosphere build immunity toward chronic illnesses, such as cancer or diabetes.

4. Regular doses of natural sunlight boost the body’s production of Vitamin D, which supports bone growth and density.

5. The green pigmentation found in leafy foliage stimulates energy, elevates the mood, and sparks a burst of creativity.

6. Both holistic medicine and modern science show that walking barefoot on grass fights insomnia, leading to peaceful sleep.

7. Nature’s abundance of sensory stimuli improves concentration, memory, alertness and other cognitive functions.

8. The average person is more likely to exercise outside than at a gym, so even 10 minutes in the backyard triggers movement.

9. Exploring the wonders of this planet promotes adventure and taking chances, which is vital for personal development.

10. Unplugging from technology and greeting the new day improves eyesight, since staring at LCD screens strains the pupils.

11. Even a stroll around the block is ideal for stretching tight muscles and lubricating stiff joints – especially those knees.

12. Any amount of time spent engaging in recreational activities or relaxing outdoors naturally heightens self-esteem.

13. The simple act of leaving those 4 walls behind encourages face-to-face human interaction, connection, and community.

14. A daily retreat from urban pollution – in a park or by a lake, for instance – boosts the body’s white blood cell count by 50%.

15. Another reason to go barefoot outside, walking on earthy, rough terrain activates reflex points that ease physical tension.

Take the “10,000 Steps a Day” Challenge

Remember all those mornings you faintly mused, “I should get up and go for a run. Uh huh. I’ll do that. Definitely.” (before rolling over and falling right back to sleep)?

Don’t lie…it’s happened. But, hey, no judgment! Running isn’t exactly everybody’s first – or second or third…or fourth – choice. And admitting that doesn’t mean you just committed a fitness felony. After all, exercise should be a feel-good activity, not an instrument of torture. So, even if you don’t have the makings of an Olympic sprinter, you’re not S.O.L. There is, in fact, another (and, I’m sure you’ll agree, less grueling) way to meet your daily cardio quota. And here’s the kicker: you already do it. Constantly. Without much effort.

I mean…you walk, right?

Thought so. Well, then how ’bout walking for a workout?

Yes, it’s a thing. You really can stay in shape by simply putting 1 foot in front of the other. We’re not talking a leisurely meander though. Nope, sorry (you still gotta MOVE, girl!). I’m referring to a purposeful, powerful, pump-those-legs-and-swing-those-arms kinda walk. Put some pep in that step, okay?!

Alright. So, brisk pace. Now, let’s go even further. Allow me to introduce  the – drumroll please! – “10,000 Steps a Day” challenge. Developed by the National Health Service, this incentive offers a virtually painless solution for those, who struggle with fitting exercise into their schedules. Simply lace up those sneakers and start walking from Point A to Point B.

But, just in case you’re skeptical that such a seemingly mundane activity counts toward a legit workout, let’s crunch some numbers. According to NHS, the average person takes 1,000 steps in 10 minutes…so, you do the math: walk for approximately 1-hour-40-minutes and viola! You’ve reached 10,000 steps. Make this a habitual routine and reap the rewards of increased stamina, heart health, limber joints, and energy to burn.

STILL not sold? Taking more steps throughout the day can be as minimal as following these suggestions:

1. Opt for the stairs instead of an elevator.

2. Park further away from the mall entrance than you typically would.

3. Forego driving and pound the pavement to work (if you live close enough).

4. Stroll through the park with a friend or significant other.

5. Leash up your dog and actually let him drag you, for a change.

6. Join a cause like the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk.

7. Grab your IPod and bebop along to some favorite tunes.

8. Feel the sand between your toes along the beach.

7. Invest in a pedometer, Apple Fitbit, or Nike FuelBand and make a game out of setting (then beating) personal walking records.

Challenge. Accepted.