How to Enjoy the Outdoors this Summer
Ah, finally the summer weather is here. For most of us, it’s been a long winter and a challenging spring. But now the sun is shining, the grass is a brilliant green, and it’s time to make the most of being outdoors.
Wherever you live – big city, small town, in the middle of the woods, or in a van criss-crossing the country – it’s time to maximize your time outdoors. There is a popular hashtag on social media: #outsideisfree and we couldn’t agree more.
Getting outside and taking in what is right in front of you frees your mind, frees you from stress, costs nothing, and is freeing for your spirit. And of course, the free health benefits of being outdoors in nature can’t be forgotten – the boost to your immune system and the healing power of trees and nature on your mind and soul.
So, let’s all do it – let’s get outside more this summer. In fact, we want you tag us with your social media posts of you outdoors having fun, relaxing, and just breathing the fresh air. Post on the AHCC Research community Facebook page or send us a Tweet. Together we can inspire one another to get outside and try new things this summer.
HOW TO EXPLORE YOUR COMMUNITY THIS SUMMER
It’s so easy to overlook the fantastic outdoor activities in your own community. We get used to our routines and forget to look outside our usual patterns for local opportunities to explore and make the most of our hometowns.
Here are a few ideas for how you can explore your community this summer:
- Music festivals: spending the day and evening outdoors listening to live music with friends and strangers is very special. Bring some lawn chairs or a blanket, pack some food, and settle in for a relaxing day or evening of music and entertainment. Depending on your community you might also have a local busker’s festival, hot air balloon festival, art festival, or something else. Take it all in.
- Farmer’s markets: somehow the fresh fruits and vegetables are more appealing when being sold outdoors. Every farmer’s market offers something different – local fruits/vegetables, local honey or maple syrup, baked goods, local artisans, and even some live music. You don’t have to buy anything – just get out and discover what is available locally.
- Parks and greenspaces: walk, drive, take the bus, or cycle to a new-to-you local park. Bring a blanket, a good book, some snacks, and stretch out to relax. Chances are high you’ll meet new people and your brain will fully relax. Leave the mobile devices at home and just be in the green.
- Movie nights: community outdoor movie nights are becoming more and more popular. Look on Facebook or on your local community website for a listing of movie showtimes at your community park. Often there will be movies for kids and adults alike.
- Cycling and walking paths: cycle, rollerblade, walk, run, skip, hop, stroll – take in your local cycling and walking paths. Venture to the paths in a different area of your community and keep your eyes open for new sights and sounds.
HOW TO ENJOY DAY HIKING
To enjoy day hiking, start with the three following core pieces of advice:
- Get a hiking partner
It’s ideal to start hiking with a friend who is an experienced hiker. If this isn’t an option for you, find a local hiking club or find a friend who is interested in hiking and discover this new activity together.
If you’re new to hiking, please do not hike alone. Get familiar with the ins and outs of hiking before venturing out on your own.
- Plan your hiking route
We cannot stress this enough – plan your route and tell others where you’re going. Even the simplest hike in the woods has risks and if anything goes wrong, you need to make sure others know where you are and when you’re expected to be finished hiking.
When planning your route, think of your hiking abilities, your physical fitness, and the weather. A great way to find local routes is with the Hiking Project – simply enter your city or town and the website will give your trail options.
- Gear up
While you don’t need lots of fancy gear for day hiking, you do need a few core items. Number one is your footwear – make sure you’re wearing day hiking shoes, trail running shoes, or hiking boots. Bring a pack to carry snacks, water, first aid, maps, sunscreen, and bug repellent. Depending on the weather you might need to bring a rain jacket or other warm layers to protect you from a change in temperatures.
HOW TO STAY PROTECTED FROM TICKS
Depending on what you’re doing outdoors and where you’re doing it, you need to be aware of the tick risk. If you’re out mountain biking, hiking, walking, camping, or simply out in areas that have grassy, bushy, or wooded areas or wild animals – you need to be aware of ticks.
The CDC recommends you treat your clothing with products that contain 0.5% permethrin or use an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.
Try to stay in the center of the trail and avoid brushing up against tall grass and leaf litter. We recommend you read the CDC guidelines on how to prevent tick bites
It’s important that you’re not complacent with the risk of ticks and Lyme Disease. Make sure you’re protecting yourself from tick bites and know the signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease
ENJOY THE OUTDOORS THIS SUMMER
Getting outside doesn’t need to be complicated. Even making small changes like sitting outside in the evening with a book or going for a walk at lunch are great ways to benefit from the immune-boosting benefits of fresh air and nature.