It’s an easy resolution with big dividends! Making time most days to get outside can positively affect your body, mind and mental health.
Time outside can increase your focus, your sense of well-being, lower your blood pressure, provide your body with the essential Vitamin D it needs to thrive, and improve your fitness. If you suffer from the “winter blues” (seasonal affective disorder), getting outside can cut down on episodes of depression. According to one study, even just sitting outside for 20 minutes can boost your energy level.
Health experts suggest all of us need at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) a week of aerobic activity. Walking is considered the easiest, cheapest and most popular form of exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 60% of Americans report walking outside to get exercise. But walking outside is so much more than getting your cardio in for the day. It is connecting with nature – noticing the seasons, stopping to chat with a neighbor, meeting a fellow walker who has a cute dog – interacting as part of a community. These connections are just as important to our mental health as walking is to our physical health.
We were not “built” to sit inside at a desk all day staring at devices; we were meant to get outside and move! As we enter 2020, let’s resolve to get outside more and reap the benefits.
15 Tips to Enjoy the Outdoors
- Visit Peachtree City’s City Hall and pick up a copy of the golf cart trail map. You will then have an excellent resource to try different, scenic walking paths. You can take a 4 – 5 mile walk around Lake Peachtree, while enjoying the ducks, your fellow walkers and maybe even a musician playing taps at Battery Way.
- Grab your rod and reel and go fishing at Lake Horton in Fayetteville, Lake McIntosh or Lake Kedron in Peachtree City. Put in your kayak at the boat dock at Lake McIntosh and enjoy the views of Line Creek Nature Preserve. For information on fishing and other water activities, go to fayettecountyga.gov/water/recreation_activities.
- Take a look at your garden and design a secluded garden space where you can enjoy some down-time and relax. It will restore your soul! A serene garden space should include comfortable seating, privacy, a pretty view and the sounds of water with a small outdoor fountain.
- Go on a geocaching treasure hunt using GPS-enabled devices. There are hundreds of hidden caches all over Fayette and Coweta counties waiting for you to find and use your detective skills. Go to geocaching.com for information on how to get started.
- Get the kids engaged outside by taking the whole family to the Newman Wetlands Center in nearby Hampton. You can enjoy a picnic and meander along easy hiking trails through an enchanting wetland habitat that contains unusual plants and interesting aquatic wildlife. To learn more, go to ccwa.us/newman-wetlands-center.
- Join the Peachtree City Rowing Club. Find out how at ptcrowing.org.
- Don’t like to exercise alone – get outside with friends. The miles go by quickly when you are engaged with others.
- Hike the trails and enjoy the beauty at our local nature preserves – Flat Creek, Line Creek, The Ridge, Sams Lake Bird Sanctuary, Morgan Grove and Nesmith Preserve. All these wonderful dedicated nature areas are under the conservatorship of Southern Conservation Trust. For information, go to sctlandtrust.org.
- Take a day trip to Atlanta and walk through urban neighborhoods, along the Atlanta Beltline’s 22 miles of abandoned railroad tracks that now connect trails and walkways through the city’s heartland. Enjoy artwork, scenic views of downtown, local restaurants and the city vibe. Walkers, runners, and bicyclists share the walkways of the Beltline. For more information, go to beltline.org.
- Stroll through the 30 acres of pristine garden space at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, with great views of downtown, an award-winning children’s garden, and spectacular exhibits that will please the whole family. See what’s happening now at the gardens at atlantabg.org. Want a garden spot closer to home? Visit the mystical, historical shade garden at Dunaway Gardens in Newnan. For dates and times to visit, go to dunawaygardens.com.
- For best views of the Chattahoochee River, hike the trails along the river at Chattahoochee Bend State Park in Newnan or Chattahoochee Nature Area in Roswell. For more information, go to gastateparks.org/ChattahoocheeBend, and chattahoocheenaturecenter.org.
- Don’t have a fancy camera? Take nature photos with your smartphone. Nature photography demands you pause, be intentional, and focus on a particular aspect of the outdoors. You notice something you might not have seen before! Some people specialize in a specific subject– liking taking photos of birds. Others just enjoy seeing something interesting and stopping for the shot.
- Take a drive to the mountains of North Georgia to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail or any one of hundreds of scenic trails in the mountains. Can’t decide? Stop for lunch at the alpine village of Helen and then hike the popular, moderate, 5-mile (2.5 out and back) Raven Cliff Falls Trail along Dodd Creek to the falls. For information, go to atlantatrails.com/hiking-trails/hiking-to-raven-cliff-falls.
- Learn to grow vegetables and meet other gardeners by joining the Peachtree City Community Garden that is opening its new location at Glenloch Recreation Center this winter in Peachtree City. To join, go to ptccommunitygardens.org.
- Not sure what outside activity you want to pursue? Well then…try them all! Georgia State Parks offers a year-round program called “Becoming an Outdoor Woman.” There are numerous opportunities to try various activities including fishing, tree climbing firearms, hunting, boating, archery, photography and other outdoor skills. For more information, go to georgiawildlife.com/BOW.