by Lyman Drown, MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS

It’s the end of a long work week (or worse, it’s only Wednesday). You’re exhausted, fatigued, and just a bit depressed from being trapped at work all week. You’re in need of recharging. Typically, when we need to recharge an electronic device we rummage through the drawer to find the nearest and correct power cable to plug in and then wait. But with ourselves, the solution comes much more simply – unplug! Find some distance between your work life and your personal life and take some ‘me-time.’ What better way to do that than outdoor activity?

Step Outside

With the feel-good hormones released from doing physical activity (remember those endorphins we talked about in Issue 11?) and the Vitamin D provided by our exposure to natural light, we put ourselves in the best opportunity to increase our fitness, mood, energy, and happiness levels. The cortisol hormone, which triggers stress is reduced, leading to a more relaxed state. Physical activity helps improve our sleep. An outdoor environment is a natural defense against depression, muscle tension and heart rates – all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

When we know how beneficial the outdoors can be for our minds and body, the question really becomes, ‘Why wouldn’t we want to get outdoors?’

The Dividend Of Division

Need more convincing? Let’s look at it from a different angle – one that ties into Work Right’s theme for the month of April. A balance between your work and your personal life is vital to your health! When you’re able to unplug from work, the benefits from these outdoor activities become more apparent and more pronounced.

Outdoor activities challenge us in ways the office does not. When we reach outside our comfort zones and are present in different terrains than we’re typically in on a daily basis, we put our bodies and minds in a positive place to increase focus and attention.

Plus, nature has the ability to connect people together, promoting social connections. Interestingly, this refresher can mean we become more successful in our workday without realizing it.

The Great Outdoors

We’ve made this sound like you need to immediately plan a weekend escape to the mountains or the beach! Not a bad idea if you have access to such natural features to hike, camp, or kayak. But don’t dismiss the natural green spaces that surround all of us – even in a big city. Going for a walk, biking, or even attending sporting events or outdoor concerts can have the effect we all need. There are benefits just outside each of our doorsteps to find a better balance in our lives.

Lyman Drown, MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS || Lyman is a Certified Athletic Trainer in the Bellevue, WA area. He has spent his career helping athletes, patients, and team members recover from and prevent injuries. When Lyman is not at work, he enjoys spending time with his kids and exploring the outdoors and whitewater rafting.

Be sure to check out our other blogs for further injury prevention education and tips for the industrial athlete from Work Right NW!