Spend more time outdoors to relieve stress, improve health

Taking a walk around the neighborhood or the local park is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise on a weeknight. Courtesy photo.

There are numerous benefits to spending time outdoors. Various studies have indicated that spending time outdoors can, among other things, improve short-term memory, relieve stress and reduce inflammation.

Opportunities to get outside can be hard to come by, especially on weeknights. But the following are a handful of ways that people from all walks of life can spend more time outdoors even after the weekend has come and gone.

Walk off your dinner. After eating dinner, resist the temptation to hit the couch. Instead of channel surfing, go for a walk around your neighborhood. Doing so is a great way to get outside on a weeknight, and a 2008 study from researchers in Germany found that people who walked at a slow pace on a treadmill after eating a large meal digested their food more quickly than those who consumed an espresso or an alcoholic digestif after eating.

Join a sports league. Recreational sports provide a great opportunity for athletes of all skill levels to spend more time outside. The effects of recreational sports on overall fitness vary depending on a host of factors, including the individual and the sport he or she chooses to play. However, recreational sports provide a great opportunity to increase your social circle and foster relationships within your community.

Having a strong network in your community, and being a strong presence within that network, can get you out of the house more often than you might if you do not participate in recreational sports.

Coach or counsel local youths. Today’s youngsters are busier than ever. Sports leagues and organizations catering to active youngsters are always in need of coaches, counselors or adult leaders. Volunteering with such organizations, in particular those that encourage youngsters to spend time outdoors, is a great way for adults to get outside on nights when they would otherwise stay indoors.

Dine al fresco. During those breaks in fall and winter when there is a warm spell, eat as many meals as possible outdoors when the weather permits. Whether you cook out in the backyard and dine on your patio or patronize a nearby al fresco restaurant, eating meals outside is an effective way to enjoy the great outdoors on weeknights. In addition, dining out away from distractions like television can foster interesting conversations and allow families to stay up-to-date with one another.

Spending more time outdoors on weeknights is a great way to reap the many benefits nature and fresh air have to offer.