Thursday, June 25, 2015

6 Easy, Fun Activities to Get You Outdoors More

As we know from the Girl Scout Research Institute report More Than S’mores: Successes and Surprises in Girl Scouts’ Outdoor Experiences (and from a recent post on the Girl Scout blog), it's super important and super healthy for girls (and all of us!) to get outdoors, have fun in nature, and not always be stuck inside glued to our technology toys. The proof is in the research! 

That’s why this Great Outdoors Month we want to get you started on your journey to more outdoor fun by offering six awesome ideas for getting outside more, regardless of where you live. 

1. Take your meals outside
Whether you have a back yard, a small patio, or just a stoop, take your next weekday dinner or weekend lunch outside. Enjoy your food as you gaze around the neighborhood, connect with your surroundings, and feel the warm sunshine or the cool evening breeze on your face. And whenever possible, make it a family affair! 

Take the opportunity to really relax and savor your meal, be present with your thoughts, or have a meaningful conversation with someone you love. It’s also not a bad idea to take a walk after you’re done eating.

2. Plan an outdoor workout at least twice a week
We’re all very busy, and sometimes it’s difficult to find the time to work out, but you can start committing at least two evenings a week to working out outside. Lots of cities have free outdoor classes for kids and adults during the summer at local parks or other locations—so jump online and see what’s offered in your area. You can also plan fun jogs with family or friends. Make double use of your precious time by getting your fitness on while simultaneously catching up with the people you love in an environment free of distractions that inhibit meaningful interaction. 

3. Get a dog
That’s right! If you don’t already have a furry ball of love as part of your family, a dog can be a great companion as well as an awesome exercise buddy. Having to walk the dog several times a day will force you to get out more often during the week. You might even enjoy the walks so much, you’ll start making them longer and longer. And who knows? Someday soon you may find yourself at the park on a Wednesday night, throwing Frisbees to your dog and drinking homemade lemonade out of your thermos like an outdoor champ! 

4. Read a book on the lawn
Reading can be done on more than Barcaloungers, couches, and beds. You can also take your book outside! So grab a snack and a drink, and head out with your page-turner. Sit on your stoop, in a chair, or even on the grass, and escape into your story while surrounded by the sounds of nature. Eyes need a little break? That’s easy. Just put the book down for a few minutes and enjoy the view of the outside world, instead of getting sucked into the next rerun of Friends. Make it extra fun. Bring the kids along (friends work too!) and alternate between reading and sharing your stories with each other!

5. “Run” errands on foot or by bike
Errands can be a drag sometimes, so why not make a fun, healthy activity out of them by doing them on foot or by bike if you can? Walking or biking instead of driving is so much more active, and allows you to connect more with your surroundings. Plus it can make errands feel a little more fun and freeing than the endless cycle of driving and parking, driving and parking. Maybe all of your errands aren’t within walking or biking distance, and that’s OK. Just go for the ones that make sense; instead of driving three minutes down your street to pick up a prescription, for example, you could accomplish the same task via a brisk walk or a quick bike ride. 

6. Plan a scavenger hunt
Whether you’re 5 or 45, scavenger hunts are always a good time! Want to make your time outside really interesting? Why not plan a scavenger hunt the whole family can be a part of? It will keep you outside and running around all day, and you’ll build great memories along the way. You might even want to make it an activity you do every month or maybe once every season—something exciting to look forward to on a regular basis! 

Outdoors is where it’s at!
And remember, no matter how simple an activity might be, doing it outdoors is very different from—and often more exciting than!—doing the same thing indoors. Outdoor spaces support physical play and help develop stronger mobility and confidence. Spending time in nature can also help you recharge and become more self-aware and creative, as well as a better problem solver.

Choose one of these six fun outdoor activities, or any other you can think up, and make it a regular part of your routine!