More time outdoors has numerous health benefits

Claire Mulkey, Staff Writer

In light of recent events, recreational outdoor time is more important than ever. Many people who are self-quarantining are turning to walks, runs, bike rides, and hikes as activities to alleviate boredom or get extra exercise as gyms have been closed and school sports canceled. Quarantine, though unusual, inconvenient, and uncomfortable at times, can be seen as a unique opportunity. Now, in the midst of the constantly-moving modern world, citizens are forced to stop and slow down. All of those things that have been on to-do lists for years are now being completed, as people find themselves with extra time on their hands.

Though negative emotions regarding quarantine are understandable and acceptable, it is also a time to enjoy life. Finally, the busy schedules and rushing around have slowed. Work, for most people, has not ceased, but there are still enough hours in the day to take up new hobbies or interests, clean the house, explore the street or neighborhood, an much more. 

This strange time period’s value depends on how it is spent. Screen time increases are normal, but exponential upticks can bring bad side effects, such as depression, anxiety, and loneliness in this already isolated time. A substitute for watching Netflix or scrolling through Instagram is outdoor time. Spending time outside has been proven to raise vitamin D levels (which helps to fight depression and heart attacks), increase happiness, improve concentration, and speed up the healing process, according to the Harvard Health Letter. 

Claire Mulkey
Outdoor activities, such as walks, can help relieve stress and anxiety during this uncertain time.

In addition to physical benefits, going outdoors can be beneficial for mental health. More time spent outside has “given me an escape and a place to relax after being stuck inside doing schoolwork,” says sophomore Sadie Zeigler. She also says that her mood is boosted after being outside. The outdoors have helped to keep her from going stir-crazy inside the house.

Roswell sophomores Bailey Oetinger and Phoebe Rathbun have found themselves with more time to practice soccer, which is the sport they would be playing if school were continuing as usual. They say that it has helped relieve some boredom during long afternoons. Another student, sophomore Alli Wiggins, says that she is “more concentrated and more awake” because of the increased sleep hours she is logging, in addition to more exercise outdoors. Students are clearly reaping the benefits of time spent under the sun, instead of the harsh fluorescent lights of the school building. 

More time spent outside given me an escape and a place to relax after being stuck inside doing schoolwork”

— Sadie Zeigler, Sophomore

In addition to walks and runs, students are having scavenger hunts around their neighborhoods or backyards, playing with their pets in the yard, swimming in their pools (small, affordable kiddie pools are a great option to cool off from the sun!), playing games with their siblings (manhunt, hide-and-go-seek, monkey in the middle, and more), drawing sidewalk chalk masterpieces on the driveway, and just enjoying the sunny days.

Although this is a trying time for many, it is a good chance to improve certain areas of one’s life and get some much needed vitamin D. Increased outdoor time “is a great break from studying and helps with relaxation,” says Zeigler.