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Going outdoors improves overall health. Studies have shown that sunlight has many health benefits. It helps the body synthesize vitamin D, improves moods and provides a sense of peace and overall well-being. Light outdoor exercise improves circulation and is a healthier energy boost than a caffeinated drink. Fresh outdoor air also improves cardiovascular function, helping both your lungs and your heart. Exposure to nature can help the brain release endorphins, “feel good” chemicals that not only improve your mood but may also help relieve chronic pain.
The sun is shining, the air is warm. Summer is a common time for many to plan vacation trips, but if you are an aging adult you might not have the capacity to enjoy travel. Have you considered venturing outside your own home, instead? Even if travel isn’t an option for you, there is no need to stay indoors. July is National Picnic Month, and a great reminder that lovely adventures can occur just outside your door.
The word picnic is believed to be derived from French and German words, first appearing in print in the 1700s. The word was associated with an outing where people brought food to share. In 1800s American culture it became associated with an outdoor meal. A picnic is about enjoying companionship, food, and the outdoors. It doesn’t have to be formal. All you need is something to eat, an outdoor space, and perhaps a friend or two for good measure. My earliest memories of picnics were simply my mother serving breakfast on our back porch so that my sisters and I could breath in the fresh morning air. It really can be that simple. If you have a yard, porch, balcony, or even just a front stoop, your outdoor “picnic” could be as simple as bringing your breakfast or morning coffee outside of your home to enjoy whatever outdoor space you have access to. Does your family enjoy sharing meals together? Suggest preparing simple food together and eating outside in your yard, or packing up and walking/driving to a nearby park to eat. Besides the health benefits, it might even save money. Getting outside is a healthy and inexpensive entertainment option. If going outdoors truly is not feasible for you, open your windows, or ask a caretaker to open them and bring you closer to feel the warmth from the sun and smell the fresh air.
As you become more comfortable bringing the outdoors into your daily routine, invite a friend or neighbor to join you. Go for a walk and admire the nature around you. San Mateo has many parks and green areas for locals to enjoy. No matter where you live, a quick internet search can show you all of the parks and green spaces near you. Find nature in your own neighborhood and take advantage of the health benefits it can offer you.