3 ways to spend more time outdoors

Need some extra motivation to get lace up those boots and get out there? It happens to all of us - but overcoming that inertia and spending time outdoors is the best possible decision you can make!

Get outside for 20 minutes per day

We all know that spending time outdoors is good for us - that's been the message since being told to "go out and play" as a kid. In fact, it seems that we're more conscious of this than ever: since the pandemic and the dreaded one-activity-a-day rule, our appreciation for time outdoors has improved, with close to four in 10 UK adults saying that nature and wildlife are more important than ever to their well-being.

So why are we spending less time being active outdoors?

According to a post-pandemic survey of children, only 25% reported spending more time outside since Covid-19, while 60% said they were spending less time outdoors. You only need to look at the mass cancellations of events in 2021 and 2022 to see how adults are faring.

Combine the two: we know that spending time outdoors is good for us but we're doing it less.

Clearly something is up.

We're not going to claim to have all the answers but we have got a few ideas on how to help. Being more active outdoors is essential for your physical and mental health - if you're looking for ways to get started, look no further.

Starting doing something simple to move more regularly
Simple outdoor activities will help you form regular habits.

#1 Keep it simple

We reckon social media is to blame.

While these platforms have some great features, we're far from alone in recognising that they lead people to compare themselves to others on a constant basis - combine that with unrealistic profiles promoting an incredible lifestyle and it's a recipe for low self-esteem and anxiety. 

It's no different when it comes to getting active, either. A cursory browse of any social media platform will lead you to believe that everyone else is running ultra marathons in pristine parts of the world, gleaming smiles on their faces 24/7. If you're trying to be more active on a frosty February morning around your local park, it can be easy to feel disheartened and stop there.

So keep it simple.

Don't set yourself an unrealistic goal to run every day of the week or cycle the length of Britain. Just a 20 minute walk in nature is enough to improve your mood and reduce stress, so start there, maybe three times a week. If you can build that into a habit, you'll be in a great place to push forward and start being more active more regularly. 

The key is to start doing something that you can sustain without too much thought or effort, like a quick walk before work or cycling to the local shop on a weekend morning. Once you start moving regularly, your motivation to do more will come. 

Takeaway: Ignore social media comparison culture and just focus on getting started in a small, sustainable way.

Join someone else outdoors to be accountable
Sharing your time outdoors with others will motivate you to get out there!

#2 Move together

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Allegedly that's an African proverb - whether or not that's true, it certainly rings true for spending more time being active outdoors. If you want to start moving outside more often, get someone to go with you.

Think about it:

If you're trying to build a morning walk into your daily routine and it's cold, dark or raining outside, there's every chance that you'll snooze that alarm. Once you have another person waiting for you, though, that option flies out the window (trust us, you'll thank for them being there afterwards).

Beyond accountability, joining with someone else to be more active outdoors together will help you to enjoy your time more because the best outdoor experiences are about much more than just being active.

Take open water swimming:

Clubs like the Dawnstalkers and EDOWSC don't just dive in, swim in silence then head home straight away. Their meet-ups are inherently social, chatting before getting into the water and enjoying a hot drink after, planning future swims or just catching up, enjoying the rush of endorphins from a cold dip.

Finding a group or community you can join will help you to spend more time outdoors, helping to make the experience more fun and breaking down barriers to getting started. If you're not keen on joining a club, no problem - just getting one other person to head out there with you will achieve the same goal.

Takeaway: Get active with someone else to make yourself accountable and have more fun.

Do something outdoors that you enjoy
Don't assume you need to start walking or running - there's much more to do outdoors.

#3 Make it fun

If you hate running, starting a couch-to-5K programme is not going to help you spend more time outdoors, no matter if everyone else is doing it. It sounds simple but too often it seems people equate starting to move more and being more active with deliberately embracing difficulty. To be sure, if you're relatively inactive then getting outside and moving may take you out of your comfort zone, but it doesn't need to be something you dread.

The answer?

Get out there and do something that you enjoy, not something that you feel you should do.

Got no love for cycling? No problem, take a paddle board to your local river instead. If you find walking monotonous, go and climb some trees while you're out there. Sure, it might sound unusual but if you're enjoying yourself then you're much more likely to get out there again instead of returning from a cold run with a new-found hatred for hills.

So it turns out that "go out and play" was some of the best advice you ever got.

Takeaway: It doesn't really matter what you do as long as you're moving in the outdoors and have a smile on your face - that's the key to build a sustainable habit and spending more time outdoors.

Join the One Million Challenge

So, you're looking to get more active, focusing on simple, fun activities and joining an inclusive, supportive community. Which is exactly what the One Million Challenge is all about.

We've challenged the users on the TimeOutdoors platform to spend one million hours being active outdoors in 2023. It doesn't matter whether you're walking, running, swimming or cycling - if you're outside and getting active, it all counts. Someone who has crossed the finish line of a dozen ultra marathons will clock up hours alongside someone who walks the dog each morning and their time is counted equally.

What's more, you can create a personalised profile and connect with other users on the platform, allowing you to support their time outdoors and vice versa. As well as cheering each other on, you can organise activities together and join them on a walk, run or bike ride, if you want to.

It's simple to join the One Million Challenge - just connect your fitness tracker when you create a profile and your hours outdoors will be automatically added to both your profile and the total count. You'll gain a simple incentive to move outdoors more often and will be supported by the active community on TimeOutdoors, ranging from experienced athletes to complete beginners.

For a more detailed breakdown on how the challenge and platform work, check out this simple guide.

See you out there!

Join our community

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