You don’t need to be climbing mountains or running ultras to get outside, or reap its many nature-filled benefits! Studies have shown that spending time in nature on a regular basis can reduce stress, improve blood pressure, fight anxiety and depression, and much more! Finding the time and space, however, to get outside when you live in a city can be difficult. Many of us spend a large portion of our time working indoors, at a desk, under artificial light and then find our evenings consumed by the ever-so-tempting Netflix marathon (guilty!). BUT, fear not—there are plenty of creative ways for city dwellers to get outside; listed below are my top six!
1. Find a Public Park
There are beautiful green spaces to be discovered outside in every city—and no better way to spend time in them than having fun with friends learning to slackline, throwing a picnic, doing yoga, playing with your dog (or with other people’s dogs…), the options are endless! You could also curl up under a tree with a good book or simply sit and enjoy the silence. I personally love to bring a blanket and throw on a guided meditation.
2. Join a Local Trail Running Club
If you’re living in the city, odds are you rely on public transit to get around. Unfortunately, not every city’s transit system is comprehensive enough to get you to those coveted trails outside the city limits! Even if there are no trails within reach by bus where you live, most run clubs will have weekly or bi-weekly meetups and offer carpooling options! It’s an amazing way to not only get outside the city for a night and discover new trails, but also a way to make friends with like-minded people (a sometimes daunting task in the hustle and bustle of everyday urban adult life!).
Don’t let your tiny condo discourage you—even venturing out onto your balcony can count as getting outside! The benefits of planting your own urban garden are seemingly endless; it gets you out into the sunshine, forces you to be in tune with the environment, and has even been proven to reduce stress levels (who doesn’t love that little that rush of dopamine when you spot a new shoot forming on your beloved green friend!). If you’re without a balcony, many cities have community gardens. You can even sometimes trade your labour for some free produce to take home—score!
4. Check the Community Schedules at MEC or REI
Outdoor co-op retailers like MEC and REI will often have super affordable or even free community events that are designed to get you outside. Run meetups, bike clinics, paddleboarding 101—you name it! Again, this is an amazing way to both learn something new and connect with like-minded people in your city! It’s also a great, non-intimidating way to learn a new skill, whether it’s backcountry camping, wilderness navigation, or rock climbing, you’ve come to the right place!
DON’T. LAUGH. Geocaching might get a bad rap as somewhat of a nerd sport (society’s words, not mine!), but it is honestly one of the most fun activities you can do! Basically, you download the Geocaching app and hunt for hidden treasures around your city. (Alright, “treasures” may be a slight exaggeration, but still cool!). You use your phone and some clues from the original hider to navigate. Once you find a hidden “cache”, you sign the logbook and can take something from the collection (leaving something else in return, of course!). You can also log a trackable cache, meaning you can leave your treasure for someone else to find, and then watch as it travels the world through the geocaching network. The more I talk about it out loud, the nerdier it does sound… but trust me, it is so much fun.
6. Join a Photography Club
Photography may not immediately come to mind as an outdoor activity but, you’ll find that a large majority of clubs will take mini trips around the city focusing on subjects like architecture, graffiti walls, gardens, and a whole slew of other things that are… you guessed it, outside! Just another excellent reminder that the benefits of getting outdoors don’t start and end with long hikes and mountain views.
What’s your favourite way to get outside? Share in the comments below!