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3 Fun Outdoor Activities to Boost Your Mood; guest post

Guest post by Michael Bourke, the co-creator of SciCamps, which is currently in its very early stages, but aims to provide people with learning resources outside of the classroom. Michael is a former boy scout and is a current lover of the outdoors and nature.

It’s well documented that time in the sunshine is good for you. Despite that, most of us don’t spend nearly enough time outdoors. Beyond the health implications of a sedentary lifestyle, not getting enough sunlight can have a big effect on your mental well-being.

Too much time indoors can lead to a vitamin D deficiency, a serious health problem that 42 percent of American adults are living with, according to scientists. Some people try to compensate by consuming vitamin D-enriched foods, like some milks and fortified cereals, but it’s not enough — 80 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D in their diet, and taking supplements can lead to other health problems.

A vitamin D deficiency can cause fatigue, weakness, aches and pains, osteoporosis, and broken bones. It can lead to a weakened immune system and even affect your mind: Vitamin D deficiencies can cause depression. You may be aware of seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that’s associated with less sunlight during the winter months. But if you’re not getting enough vitamin D, depression could affect you any time of year.

Thankfully, it’s not hard to get enough vitamin D in your life. There are lots of fun reasons to get outside and soak up some sunlight. If you’re not sure where to start, here are three outdoor activities to explore.

1. Take a Hike

One of the easiest ways to increase your vitamin D intake is to get outside for a hike or walk. Whether you have access to forested trails or just choose to walk around the neighborhood, making walking a regular part of your schedule gets you plenty of sunshine while helping you reach your daily exercise goals. Plus, you can go on walks year-round free of charge.

2. Dig in the Garden

There’s a reason that gardening is a beloved hobby for so many. Not only does it let us nurture life and connect with nature, but it also gives us a reason to get outside to absorb the sunshine. Together, this leads to decreased depression and anxiety, improved sleep, a lower risk of heart disease, and helps combat addiction. Another way to boost your mood is by eating well, so consider growing an organic vegetable garden. If this is your first garden, some easier vegetables to grow organically include onions, tomatoes, and lettuce.  

3. Go for a Swim

Do you have a neighborhood pool you never use? It’s time to change that, because swimming does double duty when it comes to boosting your mood. Not only does a dip in an outdoor pool let you absorb vitamin D over most of your body, but swimming itself is known to reduce tension and anxiety.

Some people understand the importance of vitamin D, but worry about the risk of skin cancer from too much time under harsh rays. While skin cancer is a big concern, it’s not hard to balance your sun exposure

If you’re worried about getting too much sunshine:

  • Aim for 10 minutes of exposure to your arms, legs, abdomen, and back about two to three times each week. After 10 minutes has passed, cover up with protective clothing and sunscreen. If you have dark skin, you may need to stay outside longer to get the same effect, but always go indoors before you start to burn.
  • Schedule your outdoor activities for late morning and late afternoon, when the sun’s out but less intense than at midday. Opt to stay inside during the hottest parts of the day; if you need to go out, cover up.
  • Check your local area’s UV index to prevent overexposure during times with high UV radiation.

Getting plenty of vitamin D is one of the easiest ways you can improve your physical and mental health. If you need more vitamin D in your life, try getting outside with these three activities. You’ll enjoy a big boost to your mental wellness and maybe even gain a new hobby in the process.


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