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At writing, we’re still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks may not be the norm – currently, yet social distancing is still more popular than large gatherings. Regardless, everyone is spending more time looking at screens than anything else. This is a bad thing! People, go outside and play!

The Benefits of the Outdoors

We all know what our computers, TVs, video games, eReaders, and phones do for and to us, so let’s skip that part. Instead, let’s look at the many good reasons to go outside.

Many outdoor activities are just that – active. While much aggressive exercise can happen outside, it’s not required. A few minutes strolling is good for the joints, burning calories, and keeping the body in working order.

Unfiltered sunlight (in moderation) can be the best source of Vitamin D there is. And what’s so great about Vitamin D? Well, it boosts the immune system and helps keep bones and teeth strong; overall, it’s important for many daily activities.

Being outside also gives us a chance to breathe different air and reset our mood. A quick stretch outside between video calls can get the blood flowing, clear out the last topic to make room for the next topic, and improve focus.

The Benefits of Nature

Urban centers can provide places to walk, get some sun, and breathe fresh air. However, there also tends to be a lack of greenery. Nature – plants, running water, wildlife – offers additional benefits.

Obviously, we at SFLA love nature and surrounding ourselves with it; so, we can see how you might think our opinion is biased. Well, it is. And, there’s plenty of science to back us up.

One article notes that, “[a]s little as 5 minutes of outdoor activity can help improve your self-esteem. This is especially true if you’re near water or green space. And it’s not high-intensity exercise that does it best. More relaxed activity like a walk, bike ride, or work in the garden seems to work even better.”

Nature is good for the mood. First, being in nature tends to lower the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline while increasing the happy hormone serotonin. This reduces blood pressure and stress while increasing attention and focus. Next, time outside encourages natural sleep patterns. And everyone is in a better mood after a good night’s sleep! Finally, there are studies that report that spending time in nature improves healing from illness and injury. A healthy body depends on a healthy mind and a healthy mind needs a healthy body, so what you do for one works for the other.

Science aside, if you find yourself dreaming of going out, go out!

Find the Time

It would be impossible to remove all the screens from your life. The trick is to make time to put the screens away and get some green into your system. Sit and read in the garden (preferably a real book), take a walk through the park, or go play with some kids (another mood booster). Spend some time outside where things are growing to improve your health, lighten your mood, and make that screen time more effective.

And, maybe, take your next video call on a park bench.

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