Time outdoors healthy for body, soul

I don’t understand people who never want to go outside. I get squirreley if I’m cooped up indoors too long. Even in bad weather, I eventually have to get out because it is so refreshing.

Why are some people so adverse to going outside? Is it really that uncomfortable? To me, putting up with a little weather is worth the benefit I get when I take the trouble to get outdoors. I find it healing for mind, soul and body.

I get frustrated at church that we have all these beautiful grounds, yet after a service everyone is packed indoors in the noisy fellowship hall except for the kids on the playground and my godparents, who were old-school hippies back in the day, who are out walking the trails with their dogs that they bring with them to every service.

(The dogs wait in the car, just to clarify.)

I should mention that I’m not an outdoorsy adventure person. I couldn’t tell you the last time I went camping. Even though I love canoeing, it’s been several years since I’ve paddled around on the water. So I’m not talking about high stakes here — just merely being outside.

Also for the record, I am a mosquito magnet. Even when doused in bug spray, I will get attacked. The bites will bother me so much that I will scratch until I bruise and bleed. And yet, I’d rather put up with that than staying inside because I see the benefits of being in nature.

Granted, it’s easier to be outside in the summer, unless you’re someone who doesn’t like heat or humidity. I enjoy getting all hot and sweaty, then coming home to get cleaned up and relax for the evening. I guess I feel if I get all dirty, then I feel like I’ve really done something.

I’ve gone on a few hikes lately in the woods, getting covered with cobwebs from the trail. The first time I went there, I was in a skirt and flipflops, because that’s just what I happened to have on. Still, I was able to do the whole trail.

The next time I prepared a bit more and wore shorts and my mom’s old golf cleat sandals that I salvaged from the garage sale.

I’ve discovered that, when I need to clear my mind, it’s the great outdoors to the rescue. If I need to think through a problem or I’m stuck creatively, then nature is part of the solution.

Usually, I have a dedicated “thinking rock” close to where I live. The only real qualification is that it’s comfortable enough to sit on and not in the middle of any kind of well-traveled path.

I’m glad I live close to downtown Bloomington and can walk where I need to go. I might use my car only a few times a week. It’s fun to have stripes on my feet as I get tan lines from my sandals.

I’ve read that you only need to be outside about 15 minutes a day to get your daily recommendation of vitamin D. You can view getting out of the house as taking your medicine.

I am more relaxed and calm after I’ve been outside walking. Although I like exercise in general, I feel I get more benefit when doing it outdoors. Studies have shown that being around trees and other green space has the effect of lowering your blood pressure and overall stress levels.

Fresh air really does help to clear your lungs.

Look for opportunities to enjoy nature — meet a friend in a park for a picnic. (Remember how much fun those were as a kid?) Do whatever you’re going to do, but take it outside. Open the windows in your home and car. Have greenery around your house for insulation in all seasons.

Along with enjoying nature, we need to protect it to make sure it continues to be around.

Reduce the amount of stuff you throw away. Recycle, even when it’s inconvenient. We need to take care of this gift we have been given by becoming more environmentally responsible.

I think it’s easier to appreciate the value of nature when we interact more with it. And once we do, we will want to care for it, which in turn will inspire us to get outside. It’s a positive feedback loop that will benefit everyone.