Recently I went away for a ski weekend to New Hampshire with five of my girlfriends. There was a lot of laughter but what we didn’t do was actually get outside and ski. We meant to; our cross country skis, snowshoes and boots were neatly packed in the trunk. We just didn’t use them, opting instead to get cozy indoors and talk.
And that’s OK. There’s nothing (I repeat, nothing) wrong with six busy women choosing to enjoy a day of indoor relaxation and conversation. This time. The problem is when we choose that option all the time.
The Nature Conservancy partnered with Women’s Health magazine on a survey examining our relationship with the “Great Outdoors.” We found that getting outside doesn’t come – pardon the pun – naturally to many of us.
When asked what they’d do with a day to themselves, for example, twice as many people would meet friends for a meal than would meet them for a hike. And if they aren’t hanging with friends, people are more likely to spend a day off curled up in front of the TV or at the movies than outdoors.
We aren’t making the connection between nature and alleviating stress, either. In fact, the survey found that stressed-out people were much more likely to do passive activities, even though both exercise and the outdoors are proven stress-relievers.
So what’s stopping them? It turns out that weather – too hot, too cold, too rainy – is the biggest obstacle to getting outside, edging out even a busy schedule. While understandable, it doesn’t bode well for the future of nature. If climate change is successful at driving more people inside, fewer people will bond with nature, and fewer people will be inspired to protect it (click here to learn the story of someone who, as a young adult, became a champion for nature).
Luckily, getting outside is easy. To motivate us all, Women’s Health is spending the next 30 days Tweeting tips to help making getting outside simpler and more fun (look for #getoutside on Twitter).
I know that I’ll be following along – will you?
[Image: The author (third from left) and her book club at the Diva Dash – a 5k obstacle course – together last September (they're already planning to do it again this year!). Image source: Kerry Crisley/TNC]