spring fever

Reader F. F. writes:

I’ve got spring fever. At work, at home, everywhere. I can’t concentrate, I can’t get any work done, I can’t sit still. I just want to be outside. What should I do?

Dear F.F.:

Get the eff outside!


I can't promise this will happen, but it's worth a try. Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is one time I won’t tell you to deny yourself your needs. Your body wants to be outside because it’s gorgeous out there, and your body deserves all that sunshine, vitamin D production, and fresh air. Being outside is really, really good for you. Look it up! Kids who play outside have been found less likely to have heart problems later in life; less likely to have sight problems; are less likely to be obese; have an easier time concentrating… The list goes on.

Okay, yes, this is all information about children. But there are also studies that show being outside reduces stress in adults, too. And it’s not just that it’s exercise you’re getting when you’re outside; it’s the very fact that you’re outside at all that makes it good for you.

Human bodies react positively to being in the sun and around green growing things. Period. Even if it’s cold out and still snowing in your part of the world, it ends up you’ll feel better getting a few minutes of fresh air into your system than if you stay inside sipping hot chocolate and wishing the weather would stop already.

Of course, if you’ve got a 9-5 job like many of us do, you’re going to have a harder time spending time outdoors than, say, the guy who works for the Park Service. If your boss doesn’t believe scientific research, you’re probably not going to be able to sell her on your plan to go outside to read a few of those studies you’ve got to ingest for the meeting tomorrow.

So here are a few ideas to help you exercise your right to spring fever if your boss won’t let you “work outside”:

Bike to work. Yes, it’s probably going to be a lot of work, and you’ll probably have to leave earlier than you’d like. But this is a great way to kill two birds with one stone: you’ll be spending a good amount of time outside and getting in a daily workout. Plus you’ll be saving money on gas and, you know, helping the environment or something. Do not give me excuses about not having a bike or it being too far. You can overcome these. I promise.

Walk to work instead of taking the bus or your normal transit. This, like biking, will take you longer and may interrupt your normal routine, but it will be so worth it in the end. You don’t have to do it every day, either — just once a week or even every other week.

Go for a walk at lunch. Even if you don’t get a lunch break, I believe most states require that a worker be allowed a certain number of 5-15 minute breaks during the day. Use this time to go for a walk. Or even just stand outside your building for a few minutes. You’ll be much better off than if you just stay in front of your desk Googling yourself all day. Your boss may notice the improvement in your performance, too.

Eat a few meals outside. If you’ve got a patio or a porch, this is easy. Take your cereal out and hang with the birds for breakfast. Or take your lunch outside when you’re at work. Even if the company doesn’t provide a picnic table, you can bring your own blanket to sit on. You can probably find a restaurant nearby that has outdoor seating, so hit that up at some point. Or make a great evening out of it and have dinner in the park. Take a picnic basket and a bottle of wine and enjoy yourself.

Move your workout outside. This is what most people will probably do. Skip the crowded, cramped, stinky gym and go outside to work out. Take your yoga mat to the park or just run a few laps around the block. Exercise + the great outdoors = super happy fun time.

Roll your windows down on your way to/from work. This is seriously a last ditch effort at getting some fresh air in, but you’ll feel somewhat better if you choose real air over the air conditioning when it’s really nice out.

Happy Friday, boys and girls. Now get off your computer and go outside!


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