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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Health & Wellness: Get outside

With the sun finally making a reappearance and the weather warming up, it’s time to shed your winter jacket and get outside! In Bellingham, outdoor activities are limitless, with access to Western’s beautiful campus, as well as dozens of lakes, trails and parks scattered throughout the city.

Student lounging on Old Main Lawn // Photo by Hannah Wong

Sure, spending the day outside can be a lot of fun. However, experts say that getting out into nature can have a variety of health benefits as well. According to the University of Rochester, being outside for even just 20 minutes can significantly increase mood and energy. Harvard researchers have found that a moderate amount of sun exposure can help with depression and anxiety, as well as bone and cardiovascular health. However, be sure to protect yourself against UV rays by applying sunscreen and staying hydrated.

“Getting outside helps me relax and distress,” junior Emily Schauble said. Schauble and her friends can often be found lounging in their hammocks on Old Main lawn.

Handstands on Old Main Lawn // Photo by Hannah Wong

Environmental science major Matt Wilkinson says that he prefers studying outside to studying in the library. Wilkinson definitely has the right idea, as taking your study session out into the sun can majorly increase your levels of vitamin D, according to USA Today. If you’re looking for somewhere on campus to crack open a textbook or work on a group project while catching some rays, Red Square and the Communication Facility lawn are both popular locations.

Junior Leah Fisher enjoys the social aspect of getting outside. “It’s a great way to hang out with friends,” Fisher said. “It’s great to see everyone come outside, it’s like I actually go to a campus with 16,000 people, versus in the winter, it looks like there’s like 10.”

If you’re looking for more of an all-day nature adventure, the Associated Students Outdoor Center is a great resource. This quarter, there are dozens of excursions including rock climbing, hiking, kayaking and whitewater rafting. These activities are a great way to not only get some fresh air and exercise, but to meet other students while doing so.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, there’s no excuse not to get outside. So whether you’re studying on Old Main’s grassy lawn or exploring Bellingham’s beautiful water and trails, enjoy the outdoors!

Student studying on Old Main Lawn // Photo by Hannah Wong

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