Should You Set a Goal for Hours Spent Outside?

Spending time outdoors can be good for your mental and physical well-being. From increased vitamin D levels to improved healing time, there’s no reason to ignore the benefits the great outdoors has to offer, and ample reasoning to sit up and take notice of the benefits. Learn how much time you need outdoors and the concept of outdoors goal-setting to help you get the most from this important practice.

The Importance of Spending Time Outdoors

Research shows that there are several benefits to spending time outdoors that aren’t as easy to replicate elsewhere. Among these benefits are improvements in vitamin D levels, having the chance to exercise and even healing faster.

Spending time outdoors offers more than just physical benefits. Individuals who spend time outside have been found to have improved concentration and increased levels of happiness. Even some medical professionals are recognizing the importance of time outdoors and are now writing “nature prescriptions” for patients. So why not write one for yourself?

How Much Time You Need Outdoors

Research has shown that it’s optimal to spend at least two hours outside every week in order to reap the health benefits. This time can be spent in just about any outdoor setting, from a park to a campground. It’s not necessary to spend a full two hours outside in one sitting. You can break down your outside time into smaller sessions over the course of the week, too. If you're outside-averse, knowing that you won’t need to spend a lot of time outdoors and that you can do it in a nearby location can make this a more achievable goal.

Knowing How to Set Goals

Since being outside is important to health and well-being, many poeple are turning to goal-setting to help them make outside time a regular part of their routines. Consider setting SMART Goals to help you get there as well. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. A SMART plan doesn’t need to be difficult.

For someone who wants to get outside and run (two birds, one stone), their plan might look like this:

  • Specific — Create a specific plan and determine how many days and for how much time they should spend outdoors. In this case, the specific goal might be running for 30 minutes, 3 days a week.
  • Measurable — Have measurable goals that translate into something you can plan on (and move around on the calendar, if necessary). In this case, we can measure the length of the run and the target number of days per week the person is going outside.
  • Attainable — Set realistic, attainable goals. For most people, choosing to go outside 3 days a week is easier than trying to go out 7 days a week, and thirty minutes is easier than two hours in one sitting. Be sure to consider your schedule and the weather when setting your goals.
  • Relevant — Keep goals relevant, such as picking an easy outdoor activity you know you’ll enjoy. Hate running? Don’t make your goal time on the trails. Choose something else instead. Even if it's hanging a hammock outside, choose something that's relevant to your lifestyle.
  • Timely — Focus on making the goal timely. Allow for a certain amount of time to meet the requirements to achieve this goal.

Setting goals can make it easier to ensure you spend time outside if this is a challenge for you. From a walk on the beach to camping in the woods, there is no right or wrong way to spend time outside — just as long as you make it a priority in your life.

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9/17/2019 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
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Thanks for the awesome advice, I love the great outdoors and look forward to walking 3-4 days a week it's so rewarding. Walking is a great benefit and " nature's prescription" is the best. I am outdoors at it's quiet, calm, refreshing and it keeps me fit. I am in my early 60's and I look and feel great.
I love your advice it's spot on. SMART is something we should all try to incorporate in our daily routine. Thanks for your advice.
I appreciate your words of wisdom. SMART. I just love it.
Posted by Pamelita Springer

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