5 Relaxing Ways to Opt Outside

Spending time in nature has many health benefits beyond exercise. It also helps reduce stress, improve mood, and increase your energy level.

woman enjoys mountain view
Spending time outside is good for your health, even if you're just taking in the view on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

NPS/M. Reed


It’s the day after Thanksgiving. You don’t have to worry about cooking—the leftovers are waiting. You still have friends and family in town, and you’re looking for something to do. Look no further than the Great Outdoors. There are so many opportunities to go outside, whether to a nearby national park, nearby natural area, or your own backyard. And you don’t have to be a rigorous athlete or own a bunch of fancy equipment to spend some quality time outside.

Of course, you can hike or bike or take a nature walk. You can trail run, snowshoe, swim, or snorkel. However, spending time in nature has many health benefits beyond a workout (the exercise is awesome, tho!). For example, time in nature helps reduce stress, improve mood, and increase energy level. So even if you’re not feeling like climbing a mountain, you still have plenty of ways to #OptOutside this Friday—or any day.

Try some of these ways to experience the Great Outdoors:

  1. Listen to natural sounds. Streams flowing, cracking ice, rustling in the underbrush. You may be surprised at how many sounds you hear when you take a minute to just listen. Close your eyes and open your ears...it’s a whole new world out there. Best for those looking for a serene experience.

  2. Watch wildlife. There is just something awe-inspiring about watching animals in their natural homes. Keep your distance, so use binoculars or scopes for the optimal experience. You never know what you might see—a rare bird, a majestic elk, or a tiny mountain pika. Ideal for those dressed comfortably with plenty of patience.

  3. Go fish. Even if you don’t catch anything, fishing is a rewarding way to enjoy the outdoors. From the sounds of the water to the interesting plants and animals nearby, you’ll have a great experience even if the fish aren’t biting. Good for those looking to be out all day.

  4. Become a Junior Paleontologist. You don’t have to be a kid to learn about Earth’s history, ancient plants and animals, and changes to past climate and environments. Pairs well with an inquisitive nature and love of rocks and bones.

  5. Explore starry skies. Looking at the stars has a surprisingly grounding effect, making you feel more connected to the Earth and the life around you. Best done with a warm beverage and good company.

No matter how you choose to spend your time outside, enjoy it. Take a minute to appreciate the little things, like scattered seeds of native plants, and the big things, like breath-taking scenic views.