Now that the weather is starting to warm up, being stuck on the job or in a classroom can feel stifling. There’s a good reason for that: science shows being outside improves your mental health, reduces inflammation, improves concentration and might even boost proteins that fight cancer. Despite your busy schedule, you still can enjoy a few free minutes, hours or days outdoors and reconnect with your friends and loved ones in the process. Here are some ideas to infuse your day with outdoor fun.
If You Have 15 Minutes, Walk Around the Block
Some days feel like they’re never-ending. Those are the days that carving out even 15 minutes to spend time with work friends away from your desks. Keep a pair of walking shoes and with you so you’re always ready to take a stroll. On warm days, bring drinking water with you, too. It takes just a few minutes of exertion on a warm day before you need a bit of water.
If You Have 30 Minutes, Try Yoga in the Grass
You may not always think of yoga as an outdoor activity, but stretching and connecting to your body while you’re outside gives you a chance to center and soak up some Vitamin D while you’re at it. If you’re worried about messing up your work clothes, stick to gentle standing poses such as Mountain and Tree that improve your balance without working up too much of a sweat.
If You Have 1 Hour, Steal Away for a Picnic
This might take some planning, but the benefits of spending time outside with someone you care about are worth the effort. Pack a healthy lunch ahead of time, including an insulated water bottle big enough to accommodate hydration for two. Then, find a central location at which you can meet your partner, best friend, mom or dad — anyone who lifts your spirits and let their presence wash over you as you savor the beautiful weather and delicious food.
If You Have 4 Hours, Head to the Playground
When was the last time you sat in a swing or tried to cross the monkey bars? Take a half a day off from adulting and go play. The playground is a wonderful place for family fun, but you don’t have to have kids to run and climb like one. Invite your significant other for a glimpse at your partner’s inner child, or run free with your friends. Just remember to take frequent breaks to sip water, and watch for signs you’re getting dehydrated.
If You Have 1 Day, Spend It at an Amusement Park
Coordinate your day off with your loved ones and head to the closest amusement park. Nearly every U.S. state has one within a few hours’ drive. With beautiful landscaping and delicious food, theme parks are for more than just thrill seekers. Plus, a day of walking keeps you active without feeling like you’re exercising, and screaming your head off on rides does have its own therapeutic effects.
If You Have a Weekend, Escape to the Water
Of course, everyone wants a full weekend away, and the life-giving force of water calls to many of us. Grab your significant other, family or friends and slip away for the weekend to a nearby lake, river or beach. If you want, you can even bring your four-legged friends with you to many bed-and-breakfast establishments and hotels. Allow the water to inspire you and ground you in the present moment as you enjoy your day with the people who matter most to you.
Regardless of how much time you get to dedicate to getting outside, making the most of each moment is healthy for your body and mind. Make space in your day to appreciate both the people in your life and your environment.