First, let’s get this out of the way: I’m not a doctor or a public health official.
But I can tell you this: in the face of social distancing and public lockdowns, I will still be spending time outside every single day, virus be damned.
Why? Because spending time outside is exactly the COVID-19 help we all need. In fact, outdoor time during this time of pandemic fears won’t just help you get through scare, it will continue to help you after.
1. Fresh air is a proven natural disinfectant. Fun fact: known as the Open Air Factor, fresh air has been found to be harmful to bacteria. That’s excellent news if you’re worried about getting sick. Health officials are advising Americans to open their windows and let air circulate in their homes. But better yet, why not do that and also simply head outside?
2. Mood booster. All of this talk about disease and pandemic is really stressful. There’s a difference between being careful and just being freaked out. Heading outside, however, has been shown to reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness. Add a little physical movement in there as an extra endorphin boost, and you have double-whammy of good feelings to counter balance those worries.
3. Happy people are less likely to get sick. Remember how I noted that spending time outside makes you happy? Happy people, according to one study, are less likely to get sick. Sure, you could get happy in a variety of ways, but why go the fresh air route?
4. The backcountry is the original “social isolation.” All joking aside, outside is a great place to head for a little of the solitude or “social isolation” that is all the rage these days. Keep your distance from other folks on the trail, breathe deeply and let nature do its thing.
5. This is the perfect time for a new outdoor habit. If you’re like many Americans, your calendar is probably very clear for the first time in ages. You might even suddenly find yourself with no commute. That’s a lot of empty time on your hands. But time is a vacuum — it passes whether you use it well or not. While you could fill all of these extra hours with Netflix binges, why not use the opportunity to develop some new habits?
My favorite? Spending time outside every day. Now is the perfect time to add outdoor time to your daily schedule. If you start doing it now it won’t be hard to continue later. Studies show that as little as two hours a week spent outdoors has significant benefits. Twenty minutes a day will get you well over that mark.
Better yet, there’s a whole tribe of people doing this already. Join me over on Instagram to see how I spend my time and to share what you’re doing with yours using #humansoutside365.
We’ll see you out there! (But from a respectful, healthy distance.)
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