Effortless Ways to Enjoy and Stay Safe Outdoors

by Natalia Kivimaki, Saunders Finger Lakes Museum

With the warmer weather and sunshine-filled days, we have the instinctual urge to get outside of the four walls that have kept us indoors most of the winter. Whether it is to get in a good workout, take a break from sitting at our desks and get away from our computers, or to explore our backyards, there are a few things you can do to make your experience more enjoyable. Let’s start from the beginning to discuss why we should be out in nature, easy ways to incorporate outside time into our daily schedules, and what we should do to prepare.

We’ve heard about these positives of being out in nature for quite some time, but do we really understand the benefits of being outdoors? Look no further than the list below for reasons to get motivated!


The upsides of outside:

  • Our minds and bodies relax in a natural setting, away from sensory overload and mental fatigue.
  • Going outside for a quick walk will leave you refreshed and provide a natural boost in your creativity and problem-solving abilities.
  • Being in nature can lead to lower rates of heart disease, reduced cortisol (the steroid hormone that is released into your bloodstream when you are stressed) and lowered blood pressure.
  • Vitamin D is increased after just a few minutes outside and this helps with your immune system, improves bone health and helps your body fight depression.
  • Exposure to natural light helps with our circadian rhythm, making for a more restful night’s sleep at the end of the long day.
  • A study in Denmark found that children who lived in neighborhoods with more green space had a reduced risk of mental illness in adulthood.
  • Take your exercise outside and you will see that your workouts become more intense and longer, getting you that extra boost into your daily move goal.
  • Want an added bonus? Get outside and near some water for a bigger mental health boost. These “blue spaces” tend to make people happier, provide better sleep and support mental health and well-being. If you’re not near a natural body of water, even a digital experience or an urban water experience (fountains and pools) can provide benefits.


Now that your mind’s made up about just how good it is to be outside, you might be asking yourself where to start. Before you go booking your trip to Mt. Everest for the ultimate outdoor adventure, try these simple, attainable steps for increased outdoor time.


Simple techniques you can incorporate to unleash your inner adventurer:

  • Go check the mail, bonus if you have to do this several times a day
  • Take a stroll around the block to break up your workday
  • Sit outside when you can - even if it’s just a break from work mid-morning
  • Walk to lunch and then, eat it outside
  • Find an accountability partner – make a pact to get healthy and get outside together. You’re not going to want to let your friend down!
  • Get a dog and get outside to walk! This is a bonus because you get health benefits and a cute new puppy! Don’t have the ability for your own pup? Offer to walk a neighbor’s dog while they are at work or join them on an evening walk.
  • Prepare for the weather. Oftentimes, we discourage ourselves from getting outside because the weather is less than perfect. Embrace it with the right gear (a raincoat, boots, warm underlayers, good shoes) so that nothing will stop you from meeting your goal of outdoor time. And if you invest money into these things, the chances are higher that you will USE these things, because who wants to waste money on things that are just going to sit in your closet?
  • Set a goal and share that goal with someone else. Have them check in with you to make sure you’re staying on track!


Ticks are the real deal in NY. With our recent mild winters, there is a tick explosion that can be quite scary if you’re not prepared. Use these suggestions to ensure the safety of yourself and your furry friends.


How to outwit those pesky critters:

  • Wear light-colored clothing so ticks are easy to spot.
  • Tuck your pants into your socks so you don’t have exposed skin that’s low to the ground.
  • Use insect repellent on yourself and your clothes.
  • Stay in the middle of the trails, and try not to brush up on any grasses or leaves.
  • Run a sticky lint roller on your clothes (and your pets’ fur) to get ticks before they get to your skin.
  • Check yourself and your pets for ticks as soon as you get back inside.
  • Shower shortly after you do your check.
  • Wash your clothes in hot water in the washer and dry on high heat - high temperatures kill ticks.


Now that you’ve got an understanding of protecting yourself against ticks, what other natural elements should you be prepared for? The sun, weather patterns and hunger can affect your success in your outdoor adventures.


Step out of your comfort zone, but don’t forget to:

  • Always wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. UV rays can get through those thick clouds and cause an unpleasant sunburn. Don’t forget SPF in your chapstick.
  • Wear your sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and dryness from the wind. Also, the reflection of the sun on other items (cars, snow, bodies of water) can be quite blinding so wear these all year round for the ultimate protection.
  • Check the weather forecast before your excursion and be ready for the elements. Lightweight layers are a must for those days when you aren’t so sure what’s going to happen or you’ve got temperature swings upcoming!
  • Bring your water bottle and a snack. Even the lightest exercise can make your thirsty and hungry so make sure to stay hydrated and grab a healthy snack to keep yourself energized. This goes for pets too!
  • Leave wildlife and plants alone. Don’t disturb anything while you are outside unless you know what it is. That skunk sure is cute, until it’s not. Not sure if that berry is poisonous? Don’t eat it and remember you brought that granola bar when you were getting ready!


Now that you’ve got the tips and tricks for “survival,” you’re probably wondering where you could go to get the outdoor experience. Our stunning Finger Lakes Region offers a wide range of opportunities for enjoyment, suitable for all skill levels and interests. Gofingerlakes.org, a project by the Finger Lakes Land Trust, provides extensive information on outdoor activities in the area. From hiking to biking trails, nature centers and swimming spots, this website offers maps and guides to turn you into an outdoor adventure superstar. 


The Saunders Finger Lakes Museum in Branchport, NY, is proudly featured on gofingerlakes.org as one of the top paddling locations in the region but did you know there are more things to do on their 30-acre campus? Maintained wetlands trails, an octagon pavilion overlooking Keuka Lake, a natural playscape for kids (of all ages) and a public kayak and canoe launch are just a few of the things you will find at the Saunders Finger Lakes Museum. Check out fingerlakesmuseum.org for additional information on programs and events that will help you get that boost of nature!

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