Story by Jennifer Hazard, Teens to Trails. At Teens to Trails, we’re passionate about connecting Maine middle and high school students to the outdoors. We do this by supporting school outdoor clubs and school communities through creative programming, providing outdoor gear and offering grants and scholarships for life-changing experiences outside.
When you view popular social media pages, films or glossy magazines, the outdoor adventures featured are often hikers climbing the highest peaks, runners challenging the limits of their endurance or climbers scaling impossible rock-faced mountains. While these adventures make for stunning pictures and compelling stories, they can feel overwhelming or maybe even a little bit scary to the average person.
The truth is, incorporating the outdoors into your day to day doesn’t have to be such a big deal. You can enjoy the health and wellness benefits of being outside simply by walking out your door. And the amazing thing is in time, you’ll come to find that fresh air is something we all need to stay focused, creative and energized. Here are five attainable ways to make the outside a part of your daily routine:
Take a walk
Whether it’s after school or simply just a 10-20 minute break in your work day, a quick walk in the fresh air is a great way to recharge. When you’re moving, your heart rate increases, which instantly boosts endorphins and, ultimately, your energy. In fact, walking outside can be just as effective as a cup of coffee.
Meet a friend
Make plans to meet at a local trail or park, and if your schedule allows, make it a regular thing. When you partner with someone to exercise, it’s great for accountability. To make your weekly meet-ups interesting, take turns choosing the location. You’ll enjoy getting outside and exploring a space that’s new to you.
Whether it’s catching up on reading, homework or taking a Zoom call in your backyard, it’s easy to move away from your desk and go outdoors on milder days. Plus, a change of scenery and a little sunshine can improve the way you feel, and bring a natural sense of calm to a busy work day.
Embrace the weather
Don’t let a little rain or cold stop you from enjoying time outside. Bring along a hot drink, wear the right layers and soak up the weather. For example, walking your own neighborhood after a snowfall is akin to hitting the refresh button. There’s nothing more beautiful or inspiring than seeing the world around you sparkle with fresh snow.
Make time to play
It doesn’t matter how old you are, playing outside is a great way to relax after a busy day. So whether it’s searching for shells at the beach, tossing a ball in the backyard with family or sledding down a hill in winter, the joy that comes with play is undeniable. And the best part? Outdoor play can be whatever you want it to be.
This month, with the help of our sponsor Arcadia, Teens to Trails is offering Maine middle and high schools across the state a chance to win $1,000, simply by logging their outdoor hours each day!
The Life Happens Outside Challenge, which takes place Saturday, October 23 through Friday, October 29, is a great way to incorporate outside time into the everyday. Students can log time doing homework outdoors, meeting with friends at a local park, walking the dog or even biking home from school — all outdoor time counts!
Registration is free and open to teenage students throughout the state. To learn more, or to register your middle or high school, visit teenstotrails.org/events.