It’s time to spend more time outside; here’s how

Treating your body and mind with nature

Maybe the online commenters have a point when they say to go touch some grass. According to a study published in 2019 by the Outdoor Industry Association, half of the U.S. population are not participating in outdoor recreational activities. When many of us are not spending adequate time outside, we miss out on the many health benefits.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spending time outdoors improves physical and mental wellness. The USDA cites studies that spending time in nature is relaxing, which leads to reduced stress, cortisol levels, muscle tension and heart rates. It can also improve sleep quality, increase life expectancy and even reduce risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The USDA also stated that studies show being outside can lower risk of depression and aid in faster psychological stress recovery. Nature can also help us strengthen our mental abilities, including increasing focus and attention. Shared outdoor spaces also allow for people to feel a social connection with others in the community.

According to the study conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association, people cite barriers like work, technology and costs of entry to parks and other venues as deterrents from spending time in nature. Although it may seem difficult to incorporate the outdoors into our busy schedules, there are many ways to do so. Here are six of them. 

Do homework outside

If your workload is preventing you from getting outside, try working on homework outdoors. When the weather is nicer, I work at the tables outside Starbucks or at one of the tables in the courtyard on campus. You can also lay out on a blanket in the grass instead of being cramped up in the library.

Eat meals outside

Like doing homework outside, eating meals outside provides you with an opportunity to receive the benefits of the great outdoors without taking extra time out of your day. If you have a break between classes, you can have a picnic in Kirby Park or even pick up food to eat at Public Square.

Exercise outdoors instead of in the gym

Why pay for an expensive gym membership when you can do cardio exercises outside? Instead of cycling or walking on the treadmill, go for a bike ride in the park or take a hike out in nature. Not only will you be receiving the health benefits of your workout, but you will also receive additional benefits by exercising outdoors.

Pick up an outdoor hobby

If you have ever been interested in trying skateboarding, snowboarding, gardening, geocaching or nature photography, I encourage you to pursue it. Developing a new passion is rewarding on its own, but it may be extra rewarding if your new hobby also allows you to spend more time in nature.  

Try outdoor activities with friends

Spending time outdoors can strengthen our connection with others. Instead of hanging out in a dorm room, consider doing an outdoor activity together. You can play frisbee, go for a walk or even just watch the sunset. It is a great way to clear your head and make great memories with those you care most about. 

Plan to visit outdoor attractions

If you ever find yourself with some free time, you can always plan a trip to one of the many free local outdoor attractions. You can visit local parks—such as Frances Slocum State Park, Ricketts Glen State Park or Nay Aug Park—to hike, kayak or view beautiful scenery for free. Pinchot State Forest is another great outdoor location with beautiful trees and waterfalls. Visitors can hike, ride horses, fish, have a picnic or camp. These are just a few of the many scenic attractions Northeast Pennsylvania has to offer. To find more opportunities and locations to check out, visit 

Hopefully you have the opportunity to incorporate some of these tips into your daily routine. Nature can help you feel healthier and happier. Take advantage of it.