Reasons to get outdoors

Modern life in a developed country seems, for most working adults, to mostly happen in boxes. Whether they are made of bricks and mortar, concrete, steel and glass, or some other material, regardless of any other names they may have, we can still call them boxes. The average person wakes up in a box. They eat their breakfast in the box, wash there and change clothes there. They briefly step outside the box, into the fresh air. But before long they’re sitting in another box – one that moves. Sometimes these are called cars, sometimes buses or trains. The important thing is that they’re boxes that can move. These mobile boxes take people to large boxes where many people spend their days, some running around the box, moving things around, some sitting in the same place in the box, and some doing a mixture of things, all inside the box.

As soon as the sunlight starts to disappear outside, most people go back to the boxes they woke up in and lock themselves in. There they eat, sit down in front of a screen. Then they fall asleep in their box until the following day. And repeating that, day after day, year after year, for decades, is pretty much what most humans get up to in their lives.

Meanwhile, outside the boxes, incredible things happen every day. Birds migrate, armies of ants do battle, volcanoes erupt, rainbows appear and amazing shows are put on from the Sea of Stars to the Northern Lights. Obviously, most humans are far too concerned with getting to and from their boxes to be concerned with these things, which is a great shame, as the world outside boxes is more wonderful, exciting, spectacular and fascinating than any box-dweller can imagine. You should take a look sometime.

Depending on where you live, you’ll have a variety of different worlds to explore – a spring dawn is quite different from a winter night. There is so much to observe: the ingenuity of the squirrel as he finds his food, the movement of the clouds, the different appearances of the stars and the planets, the mating call of birds, the rustle of leaves in the wind. You’ll discover new smells and textures as you feel your way through a world your ancestors once knew well, in a time when there were fewer boxes.

Being outdoors is good for you. You are breathing air which hasn’t been circulated around a box several times, picking up all the viruses, mold and bacteria and recirculating them again and again. Outdoor air is typically five times less polluted than the air indoors. This has a positive effect on many bodily functions, from improving the performance of your lungs and circulatory system, to improving your memory and relaxing your nervous system. Simply walking outdoors is known to help reduce stress greatly. Tests show that people who spend more time outdoors have reduced inflammations due to injuries or pathogens, and therefore a lower likelihood of many illnesses, including cancer. Children who spend a lot of time outdoors typically have better vision than their peers who are imprisoned in boxes. They also have better mental health and stronger immune systems.

With all the benefits and wonders awaiting us outdoors, it’s strange to think that we might need to be given reasons or excuses to go outside. However, in our modern world, nobody can get their heads around the concept of doing something without a purpose. People go jogging outdoors and then join a gym – they may have enjoyed being outdoors, but the purpose was jogging and fitness, which can be done in a box known as a gym.

If you really need an excuse, here are some: take up an outdoor sport. Or just go for a walk and hit golf ball around with a stick and pretend it’s a sport. Buy a drone and show it off to everyone you know. Take it out into the wild, fly it through a ravine and over the sea. You’ll soon find it’s not just the looks you bought it for. Don’t worry if you lose control of it and crash it, destroying it forever. You might just decide to keep going outdoors to beautiful places without any need for a fancy excuse.

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