Earth Day was started 45 years ago in 1970 in an effort to focus attention on environmental concerns and to encourage people to join the green movement and help make a difference. And what better way to celebrate Mother Earth than by spending time outdoors and connecting with nature?
Getting outdoors makes us feel better and healthier. Why? One reason is because exposure to sunlight naturally increases your vitamin D levels. Dr. John Cannell, founder and executive director of the Vitamin D Council, says low vitamin D levels are linked to many diseases, including uterine fibroids.
Kathleen Rogers, president of the Earth Day Network, which aims to broaden the environmental movement through education, argues that spending time outside allows you to get sunlight, which your body uses to make vitamin D and that increases your endorphins (those feel-good chemicals that make you happy), so you feel better.
So, in honor of Earth Day, here are some suggestions for getting out and enjoying the great outdoors:
- Plant something. Rogers states that whether you’re in the city or country, gardening of any kind is one of the single most rewarding and peaceful things a person can do.
- Sunbathe. Dr. Cannell stresses that people really should sunbathe but only for a few minutes each day. Although many people try to limit their exposure to sunlight for fear of sun damaged skin and a higher risk of skin cancer, the goal is to sunbathe for short periods of time when vitamin D rays are the strongest like high noon. This allows your body to make the most vitamin D in the least amount of time without the risk of sunburn or skin damage. When your shadows longer than you are tall, the suns rays aren’t at the right angle for your body to make vitamin D, says Dr. Cannell.
- Picnic. Enjoying food outside is a pastime with perks. Throughout history, outdoor activity has been embedded in every culture. It allows you to reconnect with nature, and that connection is so much fun! says Rogers.
- Explore. Community parks, arboretums, zoos, museums and gardens are just a few places that offer organized outdoor opportunities such as nature walks, bird watching tours, and interactive trails to help connect those with the nature around them. Environment is what surrounds you, says Rogers. You must start with what surrounds you; its the little things that connect us to nature and make us a better person.
- Get involved. While this may not get you outside immediately, becoming active in local environmental efforts can have a huge impact on protecting your environment, preserving what you love most about nature, and inspiring others to get involved.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Frieda Wiley is a freelance writer and pharmacist based out of the Piney Woods of East Texas.