How Much Time Do You Spend Outside?

Recently I went away for a ski weekend to New Hampshire with five of my girlfriends. There was a lot of laughter but what we didn’t do was actually get outside and ski. We meant to; our cross country†skis, snowshoes and boots were neatly packed in the trunk. We just didn’t use them, opting instead to get cozy indoors and talk.

And that’s OK. There’s nothing (I repeat, nothing) wrong with six busy women choosing to enjoy a day of indoor relaxation and conversation. This time. The problem is when we choose that option all the time.

The Nature Conservancy partnered with Women’s Health magazine on a survey examining our relationship with the “Great Outdoors.” We found that getting outside doesn’t come – “pardon the pun” – naturally to many of us.

When asked what they’d do with a day to themselves, for example, twice as many people would meet friends for a meal than would meet them for a hike. And if they aren’t hanging with friends, people are†more likely to spend a day off curled up in front of the TV or at the movies than outdoors.

We aren’t making the connection between nature and alleviating stress, either. In fact, the survey found that stressed-out people were much more likely to do passive activities, even though both exercise and the outdoors are proven stress-relievers.

So what’s stopping them? It turns out that weather – “too hot, too cold, too rainy” – is the biggest obstacle to getting outside, edging out even a busy schedule. While understandable, it doesn’t bode well for the future of nature. If climate change is successful at driving more people inside, fewer people will bond with nature, and fewer people will be inspired to protect it (click here to read stories of women who are working for nature).

Luckily, getting outside is easy. Check out a list of top 10 trails for running, or just enjoying nature. And to motivate us all, Women’s Health is spending the next 30 days Tweeting tips†to help making getting outside simpler and more fun (look for #getoutside†on Twitter).

I know that I’ll be following along – will you?

Photo submitted by: Kerry Crisly/TNC (The author (third from left) and her book club at the “Diva Dash” a 5k obstacle course they did together last September. They’re already planning to do it again this year!

Kerry Crisley is Associate Director of Strategic Communications for The Nature Conservancy. This post recently appeared on the Planet Change blog, devoted to enhancing the conversation on climate change and inspiring actions of all sizes. Opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Nature Conservancy.

By Kerry Crisley, The Nature Conservancy


Sabrina I.
Past Member 4 years ago

thank you .^. i leave my house just to go to school.

John S.
Past Member 4 years ago

This should be sad commentary, but just strikes me as very funny.

Kerstin S.
Kerstin S4 years ago

I go every day with our dog, working in the garden and sitting on my garden bench.

Klara Ertl
Kl√°ra Ertl4 years ago

"It turns out that weather – “too hot, too cold, too rainy” – is the biggest obstacle to getting outside"... Aren´t we used to the difficulties of weather anymore? What´s the problem with rain, snow or wind? I love them. Okay, easy to say for a healthy almost-18-year-old. But as long as you´re relatively fit and resistant, I think the weather can´t be an excuse. Makes me think of this quote from Mark Boyle, "The Moneyless Man" :
"I think we have swapped the experience of being exposed to the elements for comfort. We have, in the words of Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, become ´comfortably numb´ ".
Boyle even wrote that, contrary to what he had thought, the fact that his new way of life means he is almost always outside actually made him less often sick than he used to be.
Also, there was this sentence in a German book, I think it was something like "Do you know that feeling, when you´re so wet that you don´t really care about anything anymore?"
Being absolutely soaked by rain can feel great, if you have no duties to attend to at least.

Deborah S, dragging the bed outside sounds really cool. Thanks for the tip! :D

Jeannie Patton
Jeannie Patton4 years ago

The only thing that saves my sanity is the opportunity to hike, raft, and ski the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, where I live, and elsewhere. I'm lucky: I live in Boulder, at the foot of a gazillion trailheads, am an hour from Rocky Mountain National Park, and within an hour or two of the best skiing in America. I KNOW I'm lucky just as clearly as I know that, as a Colorado native, I'd be lost, literally and figuratively, without that kind of access. Interesting that neither of my brothers feels the urge -- one says that "if you've seen one mountain, you've seen them all." That's okay. I never get used to the beauty; every time I'm outdoors I am overcome with gratitude.

Ernie Miller
william Miller4 years ago

Call me I will go for a bike ride or a hike any time My Nikon is ready

Camilla Vaga
Camilla V4 years ago

I am outdoor alot hiking, biking

Michael H.
Mike H4 years ago

Wherever i go- there I am!

Deborah S.
Deborah S4 years ago

The question for me is how much time do I HAVE to spend inside? If it was not for daily chores like cleaning and cooking or that pesky time when I am forced to go to sleep (what a waste of hours I could be doing something), I would NEVER be inside. In fact, my husband and I drag our bed outdoors and sleep under the stars all summer unless it rains. (Fortunately we live way out in the boonies near a national forest so we don't have other people wondering why our bed is outside.) I even cook outside in summer as often as I can. Even in winter we spend most of our days outdoors, between walking the dogs in the forest, taking goats out to browse, getting wood and all the other things that make a homestead life, we seldom come in before dark. In fact, one of the best things about winter is that most other people stay cocooned indoors until spring hits, so we get the great outdoors to ourselves for several months!

Karen Bennick
Karen Bennick4 years ago

I can't walk as much as I used to. I love to sit out on my front porch or back patio. I watch the birds and the wind in the trees, clouds, butterfly's, even ants working. It is refreshing. I watch the blooms open and fade and drop in the breeze. The seasons change faster now that I am older.

Beats the heck out of TV.