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Man running with his dog on the mountain tablelandWhen was the last time you spent some time outdoors? Research shows that outdoor activity is important to our overall health and wellness. It’s especially important now, more than a year into a global pandemic when so many other activities remain off-limits. Here are some simple ways to reap the benefits of nature:

Enjoy some sunshine. Even if you are only outside for 15 or 20 minutes, it may be just enough to clear your mind and refocus. You’ll also get a healthy dose of Vitamin D, which helps to keep your immune system in top shape. A quick walk, jog or a leisurely stroll may be the perfect way to start or end your day. Research shows that even a short amount of time spent outside can reduce feelings of depression and boost energy levels. Even if you live in a city, try to get outside seek out the sights and sounds of nature — trees, flowers and birds, for example.

Keep social distancing requirements in mind. Maintain at least a six-foot distance from other people. You are less likely to be exposed to COVID-19 during outdoor activities because COVID-19 spreads more easily indoors, but it can still spread when you’re outside. Plan ahead and find out social distancing requirements for your destination. If a park or nature preserve isn’t open, don’t trespass! Additionally, be mindful of outdoor restrictions local areas have put in place.

Know what’s available. The CDC recommends traveling to parks and nature locations near your home. Once you know where you want to go, take the time to do some research before you leave the house. Will there be parking? Will there be public restrooms? Don’t have a park nearby, you still have your own neighborhood!

Be mindful of your own health. If you are feeling ill in any way, then don’t head to the local park or outdoor area. A day of rest may be just what you need. Of course, contact your healthcare provider if you feel your symptoms match COVID-19.

Don’t forget the basics. Sunscreen and water are still important to take with you on your outdoor activities. Additionally, if you are going somewhere by yourself or to a remote location, let someone know where you’re going.

The CDC also provides guidelines for safely enjoying the outdoors. Now is a perfect time to instill a bit of nature into your life as we all adjust to how COVID-19 has impacted our daily life and routines.