When you book a day of whitewater rafting, you're probably thinking about the fun you’re going to have. About spending time with family and friends, meeting new people, or exploring an area you haven’t been before. While this is all true, there are many other mental and physical benefits of being outside and enjoying outdoor activities.
Rafting is so much fun and these are reasons enough to spend a day outside on the water.
The good news is rafting has SO many other benefits you probably aren’t even thinking about, as all outdoor activities do. Nature is a powerful force and it brings us so much good - both mentally and physically.
In case you need an extra push to get you out on the river, here you go.
10 Benefits of being outside and enjoying Outdoor Activities
1. Vitamin D - We're happier and healthier with more sunshine
Our bodies need sunshine! Not only does the warmth on our skin feel so good, we need Vitamin D to be healthy. Vitamin D plays a critical role in the regulation of calcium and phosphorous in our bodies. This is important to maintain our health, and we all need to stay strong so we can play outside and do the things we love.
We don’t want to get too deep into the physiological benefits - there are lots - but we do know being in the sunshine makes us feel happy! Have you noticed your mood elevates when it's beautiful and warm outside - especially after a few grey or dreary days? We sure have!
You can get Vitamin D from certain fortified foods, but sunshine is the best - and cheapest - way. There’s a reason Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’.
As with everything, it’s important not to over do it. Getting a healthy amount of sunshine isn’t the same as getting sunburned. Make sure you pack your sunscreen for a full day outside - especially if you’re playing on the river. The glare from the water makes it easier to burn.
There are lots of great natural sunscreens out there now that are eco-friendly and reef safe. This is important to consider to make sure you're not contaminating our waterways with harmful chemicals.
2. Stress relief
There are lots of scientific studies that link physical activity and time spent outside with our mental and physical health.
We aren’t scientists, but we do know from our own experience that spending time outside makes us feel so much better. It makes us happier, more calm and relaxed. Being outdoors helps ease the stresses we’re feeling. It gives us time to slow our minds and gain a wider perspective on whatever it is we’re dealing with.
And to be honest, it doesn’t even matter what we’re doing. Rafting and adventure activities are fun, but it doesn’t need to be an adrenaline outing. It can be a walk through the forest, a run on the trails, sitting with our feet in the river or laying in a hammock.
Find the spots that make you feel relaxed and visit them often.
3. Improved concentration
We know the feeling of having so much on your plate it feels hard to take a break. When the to do list is growing and tasks add up faster than you can complete them, it can become a mental battle to step away. It's easy to feel like you have to keep working - we struggle with this all the time.
Guilt sets in. It's easy to be hard on yourself when you want to take a day off, or a break throughout the day, but feel like you should keep pushing on.
We also know from experience that when we don’t take breaks, our brains start to get foggy. We aren’t as productive, we lose motivation and the quality of our work decreases.
Taking a break and getting outside changes everything. A little bit of fresh air and activity improves our concentration. We come back feeling energized and more relaxed, and the projects we're working on become easier.
4. Disconnecting from technology
Technology plays a huge role in all of our lives. We appreciate its benefits as much as anyone, but sometimes you need a break! It can feel consuming and a little suffocating when you feel like you can’t get away.
We need to be able to get away from our phones. Away from the never ending email inbox, the dings and notifications of a new message or social media update. Away from the bombardment of news media and click bait videos (hello endless scrolling!).
Being outside enjoying yourself is one of the best ways to be present and enjoy what you’re doing. You’re busy, you’re having fun, you’re trying something new or doing something you enjoy.
There’s no need to be on your phone - and if you’re on the river you can’t bring your phone - so appreciate the time. Appreciate being unreachable and disconnected. You're allowed to have time to yourself.
It’s nice being able to connect when you want to connect, but getting away is so important too.
And, when you do check in later in the evening (or in the next day or two if you’re lucky), you’ll have lots of moments to share!
5. Connecting to the environment
Spending time outside will strengthen your connection to the world around you.
We live to be outside because we know how wonderful it makes us feel. We crave these grounding and inspiring experiences.
Taking time away from the busyness of everyday life is critical for our health. Connecting to nature gives us perspective and helps us realize there are forces and processes bigger than ourselves. Even in the craziest moments, it gives us the feeling of, 'yep, everything will be okay'.
It's often the simplest of moments - the breeze on our face, tiny little animal prints in the mud or brushing our fingers on the bark of a tree - that have the biggest effects. If you can notice these moments you'll be helping yourself.
It’s our natural world that sustains us and we'll all gain a greater appreciation for the wonders that surround us when we spend more time outside.
6. Gives you more energy (or burns it off for those who have too much)
We’ve all had the days where we feel tired and all we want to do is take a nap. Have you ever swapped the nap for a walk outside? We have and it tends to do the trick. A bit of movement and fresh air is a great - and healthy - pick me up for our bodies.
Put down the coffee or other caffeine hits and step outside instead. You don’t need to be doing strenuous activity. A little bit of movement, some nice deep breaths and you’ll be able to get back at it feeling energized and refreshed.
On the flip side, for those who have an abundance of energy (maybe you have some young ones running around your house) the outdoors are a great spot to burn it off. Find a wide open space and let them run to their little hearts content. We certainly know that kids who've burned off their energy is one of the big benefits of being outside, enjoying outdoor activities
It's free, it's healthy and playing outside will inspire their creativity.
7. Fresh air
Have you ever been outside, stopped, taken a huge breath in and realized how great it felt?
We do this all the time. We especially try to remember in the particularly challenging or stressful times.
Taking the time to slow down and focus on your breath has many benefits for your mind and body. It grants us permission to slow down and take a step back. It gives us time to think and reflect and have a moment to ourselves without having to react or make a decision.
We find a lot of clarity comes when we take some time to distance ourselves from the hustle. Our mental state feels healthier and we can make better decisions.
The quality of the air we breath plays a big role in this and it does affect our health. Find a tree or a forest or a quiet area in the garden and enjoy that time to yourself.
8. You’ll be getting exercise without even thinking about it
Sometimes the thought of exercising really isn’t appealing. We totally get it. Life is busy, stuff comes up, you feel wiped out after a day of work.
That’s the great thing about outdoor activities. You’re out and you’re having fun and it doesn’t even seem like you're exercising. But you are! You’re moving. Whether it’s padding, pedalling, walking, climbing or swimming, the truth is you’re moving your body.
Exercise doesn’t need to be a painful, boring task you force yourself to do. Find something you love to do outside and being active will be a joyful part of your day. You’ll look forward to it!
For us, hopping on our bike, running on the forest trails, walking our dog or paddling down a river are things we LOVE to do. The exercise is a bonus.
9. You - or someone you're with - might discover a new passion
Trying new things is a great way to uncover new passions. It's a great way to learn, grow and challenge your mind.
An amazing rafting experience might encourage you to get into kayaking or guiding. Maybe rafting becomes a must do activity on all future vacations, or who knows. Maybe your holiday is planned entirely around a river you’d love to experience. Grand Canyon anyone?
Your children may be encouraged to learn about hydrology, ecology or adventure tourism. It might spark a passion that directs the trajectory of their life.
You can't know you like something if you've never tried it, so make getting outside and having new adventures a frequent part of your life. If nothing else, you'll have a lot of fun doing it!
10. a good night's sleep
Our 10th of the benefits of being outside and enjoying outdoor activities. Bodies are meant to move, and when you exert yourself throughout the day you're going to need a good rest. The fresh air, sunshine, wind, excitement and physical exertion all add up.
We love the feeling of climbing into bed after spending whole day outside. When you can’t wait to get into bed you know you’re going to have a really good sleep .
The benefits of a long, deep sleep are many, but that's a whole other topic. All we know is it sure feels good!
And there you have it. If you're planning an outdoor adventure you might be getting a whole lot of perks you didn't even think of. There are so many benefits of being outside and experiencing outdoor activities that it's a win-win-win.
If whitewater rafting is an activity you'd like to add to your holiday, we can help with that.
If you think we missed any benefits of being outside and enjoying outdoor activities, please get in touch. Also let us know if you have any questions. We'd love to hear from you!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment below.
If you're looking for some tips on how to best get ready for your outdoor adventure, check out this Prep Like a Pro article.
Cheers from all of us here at Glacier Raft Company