Ah! The great outdoors! Getting fresh air, sunlight, and awesome views. And maybe a little exercise as well? There are so many reasons to get outside, and some of those reasons include your health, both mental and physical.
Benefits of exploring the outdoors
Research shows that we should all be spending more time outdoors. There are a ton of benefits that help us daily and also in the long run. Some of the physical health benefits may seem obvious, but data shows there are many mental benefits as well.
Outdoorsy’s Road to Wellness Survey revealed that more than 90% of North Americans feel that spending time outdoors makes them happy, helps them relax, and improves their overall mental health. And if you spend that outdoor time with family and loved ones, there are even more benefits.
Some other benefits to spending time outdoors, include:
- Improves mood — Researchers have found that anxiety, depression, and anger decrease after spending time outdoors because natural scents like roses, freshly cut grass, and pine make you feel calmer and more relaxed.
- Boosts energy — One study suggested that spending 20 minutes in the open air gives your brain an energy boost comparable to one cup of coffee.
- Lowers your blood pressure and reduces stress — Just looking at trees lowers blood pressure and reduces the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
- Improves focus — Studies have shown that adults and children who have difficulties focusing are better able to concentrate after spending time in nature.
- Enhances creativity — Psychologists found that backpackers scored 50 percent higher on creativity tests after spending a few days outdoors without electronics.
- Helps us heal quicker — Researchers discovered that patients who spent time outdoors during their recovery required fewer painkillers, had fewer complications, and experienced shorter hospital stays.
- Provides your daily dose of Vitamin D — We get more than 90 percent of our vitamin D from casual exposure to sunlight, which helps us absorb calcium, prevents osteoporosis, and reduces inflammation.
- Supports graceful aging — According to one study, adults over 70 who spent time outdoors experienced fewer sleep difficulties, complained less about aches and pains, and enjoyed improved mobility.
How to get the most out of your road trip?
With all of the benefits associated with being outdoors, you certainly don’t want to give yourself any stress on your road trip. Make sure you plan ahead; this will decrease the chances of things going wrong.
The first thing you want to do is make sure your rig is road-trip-ready. Check tires, fluids, lights, mirrors, and windshield wipers. Next, make sure you have all essential paperwork like vehicle registration, proof of insurance, etc. Afterward, it’s time to pack. Depending on where you’re going, the weather, and what activities you’ll be doing, your packing list may vary. Snacks should be on everyone’s packing list, though!
You’ll also want to plan out your route ahead of time. Remember that you may lose service while you’re on the road, so it’s a good idea to have a paper map or take screenshots on your phone. You should also have some road trip games ready since they are a fun way to pass the time and to get everyone in a good mood.
Different outdoor activities
Now it’s time to head outside! One of most people’s favorite outdoor activities is hiking. The great thing about hiking is that it can be done anywhere. There are plenty of parks all over the country that offer fun trails and incredible vistas. But more on that later…
Kayaking is another popular outdoor activity. And gone are the days of having to lug around a large and heavy kayak. Nowadays, there are inflatable and foldable kayaks that are easy to travel with so you can get out on the water more often.
Another outdoor activity that has grown in popularity over the years is geocaching. It’s basically an outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. These “caches” can be hidden all over the world and it’s a fun activity to do with the whole family.
While you’re outdoors, stay safe and comfortable by keeping these things in mind:
- Wear a hat and sunblock.
- Drink lots of water.
- Carry a first-aid kit.
- Wear layers and comfortable shoes.
- Let someone know where you’ll be, especially if traveling solo.
It’s also a good idea to have a checklist, to make sure you don’t forget anything.
Outdoor travel destinations
So where should you go for your next outdoor adventure? As we mentioned earlier, there are plenty of parks around the country where you can sit back and relax or get your adrenaline pumping. National parks are a great option, but so are some of the lesser-known (and less crowded) state parks.
Imagine hiking to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park or paddling along the river in Myakka River State Park. You can do as much or as little as you want, but you will definitely be reaping the benefits of being outdoors.
Ready to head outdoors?
Rent an RV and start planning your road trip to get outdoors. Your body and mind will thank you. Happy travels!