A man running on a bridge for an article about outdoor activities.
It's tempting to stay in the comfort of our own homes during the winter break, but trying outdoor activities may give you the physical and mental clarity you've been searching for all semester. (Photo by Fabio Comparelli from Unsplash)

The 5 Best Outdoor Activities for College Students

Feeling stressed and trapped within the four walls of your tiny dorm room? Get outside and try something new to benefit your physical and mental health.

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A man running on a bridge for an article about outdoor activities.

Feeling stressed and trapped within the four walls of your tiny dorm room? Get outside and try something new to benefit your physical and mental health.

It is no secret that spending time outdoors yields many benefits, such as soothing both mental and physical wounds. Unfortunately, many college students still spend most of their time inside. As time passes by, we become even less eager to venture outside of our dwellings and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we expose ourselves to our planet and everything it has to offer — especially outdoor activities!

Spending quality time outside has been proven to boost concentration and mood while also lowering stress levels. In addition, engaging in outdoor activities can provide much-needed exercise, promote a healthy sleep schedule and increase your body’s ability to absorb vitamin D, a crucial nutrient that helps your body obtain vital minerals. Being outdoors can also be a social activity that allows you to connect with more people in your community.

Given that being outdoors is practically a prescription for better health, you should feel inclined to put down your cell phone and soak up the sun. I have compiled a list of the best outdoor activities for college students that are both enjoyable and healthful. These activities will allow you to not only get in touch with yourself but also with nature.

1. Hiking

Hiking is one of the best outdoor activities college students can partake in because it can result in improved mental and physical health — something that all college students can benefit from. For example, hiking is fantastic for your cardiovascular health, as it has been proven to reduce hypertension and decrease cholesterol levels. Even light hiking can better your endurance, aerobic fitness, balance and muscle-building capacity. Likewise, hiking can benefit your mental health by easing stress, boosting your self-esteem and improving the quality of your sleep.

Don’t feel like you have to begin your hiking journey on an enormous and difficult trail, either; rather, it is best to start on easy paths that allow your body time to adjust to this new activity. Once you give your body the chance to become better acquainted with hiking, you will be able to hike longer, faster and harder without feeling completely out of breath.

2. Fruit Picking

Whether you engage in this activity by yourself or with a group of people, selecting your own fresh, seasonal produce is a great way to destress by surrounding yourself with nature. Personally, I enjoy going apple picking with my family on the weekends, which is when I have the most free time. I noticed that fruit picking has greatly decreased my stress levels and has allowed me to get in touch with the beautiful world that surrounds me.

I would recommend finding a local farm in your area — a quick Google search will make this possible. When you engage in fruit picking, not only will you be able to nourish your body with healthy foods but you will also be supporting local farms with your purchases. Not to mention, at most farms, admission and parking are completely free of charge. Don’t miss the opportunity to harvest your own healthy fruits and vegetables.

3. Swimming

This is a great activity that can be as strenuous or calm as you want it to be. If you do not feel like swimming long laps across the pool, you can simply dip your feet in the water and bask in the glow of the sunshine. Swimming is not only an amazing exercise but also a very relaxing and cheap activity.

For college students, finding a pool to swim in is usually not a hard task. If you do not have a pool that is readily accessible to you on your campus, you can do some research to figure out where the nearest community pool in your area is. A body of water, such as a lake, river, pond or ocean, is another viable option if you live near one. If none of these resources are feasible for you, you can buy a kiddie pool for as cheap as $10 on Amazon and recreate your favorite childhood memories.

4. Painting and Other Artistic Outdoor Activities

Painting is sure to be a relaxing project that can put your mind at ease and help you feel more grounded. Grab an easel, paint and a canvas and make your way outdoors. If you do not wish to paint, there are many other artistic activities that you can partake in outside, such as knitting, drawing, scrapbooking and jewelry making. Painting outdoors can help refresh your mind and spark your creativity. It will allow you to breathe some fresh air, hear the chirping of the birds and feel a gentle breeze on your face. In other words, you will become more in touch with your surroundings.

I would recommend setting up your easel in front of a naturalistic scene that you admire. Once you find a spot you like, sketch it out and then paint it, trying to incorporate as many details into your artwork as you can. Being outside, as opposed to a restrictive enclosed space, will increase your awareness of the world.

5. Yoga

Yoga is popular for a reason. I have been practicing yoga outdoors since I was in middle school, and I am happy to say that every session has tremendously improved both my state of mind and my flexibility. Yoga on its own has many benefits, but when combined with the outdoors, the advantages become even more apparent. Practicing yoga in an outdoor setting aligns you with nature, which results in a relaxed and renewed state. It also increases your focus and replenishes any depleted energy. Not to mention, when you engage in yoga outdoors, you will never experience the hindrance of competing for floor space. Physically, practicing yoga outdoors improves your balance and coordination.

If you are used to performing your yoga inside, switching up the setting will allow you to push your boundaries, which will also boost your confidence. With all that being said, what are you waiting for? Grab a mat, put on your sneakers and head outside into the dazzling world that we call home.

Trying a few of these outdoor activities may be the perfect way to improve your physical and mental health before the new school semester arrives.

Writer Profile

Daniela Saffran

Rollins College
English and Business Administration

My name is Daniela Saffran, and I am from Massachusetts. I am a junior at Rollins College, where I am currently studying English with a concentration in creative writing. I have published five children’s novels, as well as countless poems and screenplays. I have been passionate about writing for as long as I can remember, and I am beyond excited to be working with Study Breaks Magazine!

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