When the clouds clear after a long, dreary winter, most of our thoughts turn to enjoying the great outdoors. We start planning camping trips, hiking excursions, and weekends at the coast. And if we can’t spare the time away to embark on extended getaways, chances are excellent that we’ll at least initiate a backyard BBQ or invite some of our favorite people to go for a picnic lunch.
We all know how nice picnics can be: what could be better than dining in the great outdoors when the birds are chirping, the squirrels are playing tag, and the rhododendrons are exploding into color?
As it turns out, eating outside is good for more than just a change of lunchtime scenery. It’s also good for your health. Unless you’re picnicking on soda and deep-fried Twinkies, in which case, stop that.
Picnics: Fortified With Vitamin D
Vitamin D is wonderful for the immune system, great for the heart, and is thought to help prevent bone diseases. It’s commonly found in eggs, fish, milk, and fresh fruits and vegetables, and… drum roll please… sunlight!
Well, vitamin D is not actually carried through the vast vacuum of space on light waves, but the sun’s UVB radiation converts a chemical in your skin into this essential vitamin. So every meal you eat outside on a sunny day is auto-magically fortified with vitamin D.
A Natural Mood Booster
If you live in a part of the country where you don’t see the sun for months at a time, you know firsthand how much a lack of sun can affect your mood. Many of us don’t get enough of the great outdoors any time of year. Studies have shown that populations that spend more time indoors also have higher rates of depression and anxiety.
Taking lunch outdoors is a natural mood booster. If you’ve been spending too much time in a windowless office, you’ll be truly amazed a what a difference just spending your lunch hour outside can make.
Having Trouble Concentrating?
Certain studies have indicated that children with ADHD focus better after spending time outside. It isn’t known whether the same effect applies to adults, but it doesn’t seem too wild of an assumption. If you’ve been having trouble concentrating, try dining al fresco.
Getting Outside Keeps You Active
There’s something about fresh air, sunshine, or a nice breeze that just makes you want to get some exercise. If you’re at the park for lunch anyway, why not go for a stroll, shoot a few hoops, or see if those kids will let you test your long-neglected hacky-sack skills.
[Photo Caption: Laughing Planet patio at Gabriel Park location]