Benefits of Walking Outdoors

Sadie Blace, Reporter

Now that the warmer weather is approaching, I can go outside and enjoy the weather that I have been so anxiously awaiting. My favorite way to enjoy the fresh, spring weather is to go on walks outdoors. During the COVID-19 lockdown, going on walks was one of the only forms of entertainment, and since then, it has become one of my favorite pastimes. I often go on walks with my friends to catch up, while simultaneously getting exercise and soaking up vitamin D. Finding new trails or walking to get an iced coffee is an activity that one can do solo, or with friends and family. There are a multitude of benefits that one can experience by walking outdoors. Taking time for yourself for this simple exercise can create the room to better both your mental and physical health.  

There are many health benefits to walking outside. As previously mentioned, walking outdoors can boost your chances of being exposed to vitamin D. The sun provides amounts of vitamin D that are proven to boost your mood. As we know, exercise releases endorphins in your body that are your brains “feel good” chemicals. Walking outside is no exception, keeping your stress down and your mood up. In addition to this, walking outdoors has also been proven to lengthen your lifespan. A Harvard study from 2019 observed women in their seventies and explained how even 4,400 steps a day can reduce the risk of premature death by 40%. This is a considerable fact that is often overlooked but should be more seriously considered. Other health benefits include an overall decrease in stress levels, lower blood pressure, and increased joint health. Fresh air and a little movement do amazing things for the body. 

When I go on walks by myself, I will often listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or music. By doing so, I can fully allow myself to think and spend time by myself. This has been one of the best experiences for me. As I grow older, I am learning to be more comfortable in the time I spend with myself. Going on outdoor walks has been an incredible way to do that. Though listening to music and podcasts is nice, I sometimes walk in silence to listen to all the things going on around me. I will go on trails and listen to the wildlife that naturally surrounds me. Sometimes I will take the time on my walk and call someone that I haven’t in a while. Other times, when I am feeling more productive, I will make to-do lists or rearrange my Spotify playlists. Devoting that time to whatever you may need is part of what makes outdoor walks so versatile and fun.  

Going on walks outdoors is also an amazing grounding practice. When I find myself drowning in homework, getting restless in my seat, or getting anxious, I often head outside to clear my head. Finding an activity that can bring you back to Earth when you are feeling restless is an extremely helpful tool to aid in improving your mental health. Going on walks is an activity that betters both your mental and physical health. Walking also serves as the perfect rest day activity. It is a great alternative to lifting, or higher impact sports that are tougher on your body. There is a nice trail that wraps around the Wellness Center that me and my friends often utilize. In the fall, its leaves display beautiful colors, beckoning walkers, bikers, and runners to explore the trail and enjoy the colorful foliage. Though we have not had a stretch of super warm weather yet this year, the trail is a must-do when the weather is warmer.  

Another aspect that has grown my relationship with outdoor walks are the shoes that I recently purchased to keep my walking feet happy. After seeing a variety of different athletic training shoes on TikTok, I finally caved in and bought a pair of Hoka Clifton 8s. They are the most comfortable shoes. I bought them with hopes of picking up running but have found that they serve as the perfect walking shoes. As the weather gets nicer, I hope to wear them outdoors more frequently. Buying new shoes can be the perfect motivator to step outside for a nice walk. There is an abundance of different shoe brands that can perfectly complement your outdoor walking activities. Buying yourself a new pair of shoes for your outdoor walks can serve as the perfect motivator to start your outdoor walking journey.  

Though we are not completely immersed in the warm weather yet, lingering bits of winter offer a brisk aspect to your outdoor walks. As the warm weather approaches, I encourage you to grab some friends, or go solo, and head outside for a walk. It is a great activity to improve your overall mental and physical health and has completely changed the exercise game for me.  


 Sadie Blace is a Dakota Student General Reporter. She can be reached at [email protected].