By Ivy Kuberry | Oil Creek State Park
Ever notice you feel calm after being outdoors? Sleep better or find yourself in a better mood after a walk? We are all aware being outdoors is good for us, but how often do we make it a priority?
Countless studies show spending time outside has positive effects on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This isn’t surprising considering humans are a part of the natural world. Our bodies use sunlight to manufacture vitamin D, which supports healthy bones, muscles, and immune systems. Being outside can also calm symptoms of anxiety and stress, and when we spend time outside we generally tend to get more exercise.
It’s easy to forget how important it is to spend time outdoors when you’re living a busy life, so I’m here to remind you to get out there!
But I Have to Work
Many of us have jobs with long hours in front of a computer or up on our feet standing in one place. I work at a park and still sometimes find myself sitting at a computer for eight hours! This can cause tension build-up in our bodies, can strain our eyes, and cause tiredness or even frustration.
It isn’t natural to be indoors all day. While humans are highly adaptable, we need time outside for physical and mental health. Take time to check in with yourself and notice when you’re feeling overwhelmed or tense. Instead of sitting in the break room to relax, try taking a walk around the block. You don’t need to be close to a park to enjoy good old fashioned sunshine, and you don’t need to be outside for hours to benefit. You might even want to start your day off with time outdoors by sipping coffee on the porch or walking to work if you can. Set yourself up for a good day.
Bring the Outside Inside
Don’t have time to get outside during your day? Does bad weather have you trapped inside? Try bringing the outside inside! Open a window, or set up a suction cup birdfeeder. Spend time mindfully looking outside, or utilize a covered porch or awning for fresh air.
Studies have found that office plants can boost your mood and increase productivity. They can even give you an oxygen boost and help regulate the office humidity. Simply looking at greenery can improve your mood! Look for a potted plant that’s easy to care for, and spruce up your desk.
Utilize Your Days Off
Recharge after your week with time outside! It can be tempting to spend weekends on the couch. There’s nothing wrong with that every once in a while, but remember there are amazing benefits to getting out, and Venango County is absolutely full of opportunities.
I work at Oil Creek State Park, and a big part of what I do is offer free environmental, historical, and recreational opportunities for visitors. You can check out our Facebook page or visit events.dcnr.pa.gov to stay up-to-date on park events, or you can come out and explore the park on your own. There are over 60 miles of hiking trails, overnight shelters, fishing spots, and picnic areas. You can also pop in the park office during open hours and rent a bicycle to ride on our 10-mile bike trail.
Other great local spots for outdoor activities include Two Mile Run County Park, Drake Well Museum & Park/OC&T Railroad, the Sandy Creek, Allegheny River, and Justus Trails, and the Kennerdell Tract of the Clear Creek State Forest (including Freedom Falls, the iron furnace, and the Kennerdell Scenic Overlook).
Get involved with a volunteer opportunity. Visit a city park. Take a walk through downtown. Just get outside!
Join FLEX and Ivy for our Summer Kick-Off on Sunday, June 13, at Oil Creek State Park! She will lead attendees for a hike through the part, with a break for a picnic. Registration required. Register at: members.venangochamber.org/events