The Benefits of the Great Outdoors

Outdoor Recreation

How do you do it? In general I’m an active person and I struggle to sit at the computer for just 5 hours a day working. I know many of you are there for much longer hours. When I used to work at the YMCA, there were plenty of built-in opportunities to both do my job and be away from my desk, but now I have to be intentional about getting up and moving.

So every day, I schedule in a time to get out and about and do something outside that gets my blood flowing. These days, we’re in the countryside of Puerto Rico, so we walk up and down the hills in our neighborhood twice daily. I also try to add a “run” in the pool most days as well.

A little hike up the hill to our temporary home in the mountains!

Why get outside you ask? Well, one of the primary benefits is to switch-off from working, and switch-on to resetting your mood and attitude. In fact, research has shown that walking or running promotes the release of endorphins that stimulate relaxation and improve your mood. In fact, walking does not have to be done at a fast pace to have stress-relieving benefits.

Frequent, moderate exposure to the sun can also be good for your body. When your skin is exposed to the sun it makes the essential nutrient, vitamin D. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and plays a role in bone growth and healing. Of course, make sure you protect your skin with sunscreen when producing your daily dose of “the sunshine” vitamin. Interesting sidebar, pale color skin makes vitamin D more quickly than darker colored skin tones.

At Puerto Nuevo Beach near where we're buying our home.

Outdoor recreation can also be a time of bonding with neighbors, family, and friends. The options are almost limitless here: softball league, bowling team, boating, hiking, walking, running, golf, you name it. We see our neighbors and practice our Spanish most days on our walks. The relationships you build during your activities are another benefit to your overall well being.

Lyndon and our daughter on our Camino in Spain this past spring.

Of course, if you don’t have an opportunity to exercise outside, inside has its benefits as well.  That being said, research has shown that those who exercise outside burn 10% more calories than those who stick to indoors with the treadmill. When exercising outdoors, we are often distracted, in a good way, by the beauty of our surroundings, and as a result, we actually spend more time exercising.

Take advantage of beautiful weather as you are able and enjoy the extra benefits of physical activity outside! Tell us or show us, what do you like to do outside?


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