Why Spend Time Outside?
Studies show that adults don’t spend enough time outside. On average, adults spend less than five hours outdoors every week, reporting that they feel satisfied with the little amount of time they spend outside. However, increasing the amount of time you spend outdoors can greatly impact your health, happiness, and energy levels.
Spending more time outside has five main benefits for adults.
1. Better Vision
Have you ever felt like your eyes are exhausted from staring at a computer screen or phone all day? Constantly focusing your eyes on one thing can cause eye fatigue and eye strain. It also can wear out your near-sighted vision, meaning that you’re more likely to need reading glasses earlier in life. Our eyes aren’t meant to stare at the same thing for eight hours a day, which is why spending time outdoors can improve your vision. While outdoors, you’re focusing on things close to you and then looking at objects far away. By varying the distance of your eyesight, your vision improves. Your eyes will feel more relaxed and less strained.
2. Improved Mood
Spending too much time inside can make a person feel restless, anxious, and depressed. One study found that colors associated without the outdoors make people feel happy, energized, and stress-free. This study had cyclists pedal in front of three different footage colors: green, gray, and red. Those who pedaled in the green room reported feeling more energized and felt like the workout was easier. They also associated the workout with positive emotions, suggesting that our minds are programmed to be stimulated by grass, trees, and flowers. Spending time outside can make a person feel happier and more confident.
Spending time outside can also help those struggling with seasonal disorders. Some people report feeling depressed during the winter months. Scientists associate this feeling with a lack of sunlight and a lack of color. However, spending time outside during cold months can combat this seasonal depression, helping thousands of adults across the country.
3. Immune System Boost
Plants release a natural chemical into the air called phytoncides. When a person breathes in this chemical, it can increase the number of white blood cells in their blood. As the number of white blood cells increases, the body becomes healthier, and the immune system becomes more effective. Those with high white blood cell counts can easily fight off infection and disease.
Being outside also increases your vitamin D intake, which is essential to the body’s ability to fight infection and disease. Spending a few minutes outside every day can help the body absorb higher amounts of vitamin D, thus improving the immune system.
4. Feel Calmer
Certain smells make people feel calmer, happier, and more at ease. Unsurprisingly, many of these “happy” smells are associated with the outdoors. The best outdoor smells for making a person feel calm are:
- Freshly cut grass
- Pine trees
- Petrichor (the smell of rain)
Essentially, being outside is like a free form of aromatherapy. Going for walks, hiking, biking, or sitting in a park can help relax your body by exposing it to naturally calming smells.
5. Improved Creativity
Reports show that spending time outside improves creativity. When spending time outside, your mind can wander. You see things that spark new thoughts, encouraging you to look at your problems differently. One study showed that backpackers scored 50 percent higher on a creativity test after spending a few days outdoors without their electronics. Spending time outside can also improve concentration.
How Can Adults Spend More Time Outside?
As long as you wear sunscreen, there are no reasons to avoid going outside. Being outside has a wide variety of benefits. However, some people feel like they need an excuse to go outside. Here are five ways to spend more time outdoors without going out of your comfort zone.
1. Eat Lunch Outside
The number one thing you can do to spend more time outdoors is to sit outside during your lunch break. During lunch, most working adults sit inside at a desk. They eat their lunch in the same place they’ve been sitting for nearly four hours. To increase the amount of time you spend outside, simply stand up and walk outside. Move your lunchtime spot to the curb outside the office, or find a nearby table. Sitting outside every day for lunch can increase the amount of time you spend outdoors by up to seven hours.
2. Go For Morning Walks
Going for morning walks can improve your mood, help you wake up, and start your day productively. Going for a monitoring walk will also improve your physical health by adding a few more minutes of exercise to your routine. The fresh morning air will help revitalize your mind and have the same effects as a coffee cup.
3. Host Outdoor Social Events
When planning events with your friends, plan to meet outdoors and to stay outdoors for the entire event. Instead of going to the mall, go to a local park and have a picnic. If you have kids, plan to have the playdate outside. Host family reunions outside as well. This can add several hours to the time spent outside every week.
4. Get a Dog
For some, this might push you slightly out of your comfort zone. However, if you’re already considering getting a pet, a dog is a great way to encourage you to spend more time outside. To get a dog, you have to be prepared for responsibility and be ready to give the dog the exercise it needs. Getting a dog will practically force the owner to spend at least an hour and a half outdoors every day, adding ten hours of outdoor time to every week.
Not everyone should adopt a dog, especially if you’re considering it solely for the purpose of pushing you to be outdoors more. Instead, only adopt a dog if it’s something that you think would benefit your life and the dog’s life. When adopting, consider adopting from your local animal shelter.
5. Sit Outside to Wake Up
Right when you wake up in the morning, take a few moments to sit outside on your porch. It doesn’t matter if your hair is still messy from sleeping or if there are dark circles under your eyes. Sitting outside right away after waking up can improve your productivity throughout the day. Additionally, if you live in a cold state, sitting outside can help you wake up faster, improve your skin's health, and even improve your metabolism. Sitting outside for only ten minutes in the morning as you drink your cup of coffee or tea can increase your time spent outdoors by up to two hours a week.
20 of the Best Field Games for Adults
If you're planning an outdoor field day for your friends, here are some of the best field day games for adults.
One of the most popular games for large field day events is tug-o-war. Tug-o-war is a straightforward game that never fails to entertain a large group. To play, all you need is a long rope. Separate the group of adults into two teams. The two teams should seem evenly matched, with equal strength and endurance players on both sides of the team. If possible, select two group members to be team leaders and let them choose their teams. Tie a ribbon in the center of the rope and place a marker on the ground, with the middle of the rope on top of the market. Then, tell the teams to line up at opposite sides of the rope, each person grabbing the rope with both hands.
Before starting, make sure that the ribbon is tied in the middle and that the rope is centered. When the officiator calls “GO!” both teams will pull the rope as hard as possible. The first team to pull the opposite team past the middle marker wins.
2. Three-Legged Race
The three-legged race is a classic outdoor activity. It’s perfect for adult groups, kids, or family reunions. To play, partner everyone into groups of two. Tie the right leg of one person to the left leg of the other person. When the two people walk, they will have to move the tied leg in harmony with their partner, or the pair will trip. Line up all of the teams on a starting line and have them race towards a finish line. The first team to get to the other side wins.
To make the game hilariously complicated, group everyone into groups of three. When a team is a group of three, tripping is highly likely. This version of the three-legged-race is hilarious to watch and will have the audience nearly dying of laughter by the time someone crosses the finish line. It requires the utmost cooperation between the three teammates. Because the middle person has both legs tied, they have to think twice as hard to keep up with the two on the outside. If the three-legged race seems too easy for your group, make it a four-legged race!
3. Wheelbarrow Race
Having a wheelbarrow race is another classic field day game activity. It’s the perfect game for a family field day or even a game for a friend’s day. To play, have everyone get together with a partner. One person will be the pusher, and the other is the wheelbarrow. Have one person lay down on the ground, face down, with their hands palm down beneath them. The partner will stand behind the person and lift up their feet from the ground, while the person lying pushes up with their palms simultaneously. To race, start everyone at a starting line. The first person to get to the finish line wins.
4. Blind Volleyball
Blind volleyball adds another layer of fun to the field day game of volleyball. To play blind volleyball, you will need the following items:
- Volleyball net
- Large bed sheet
Start by setting up the volleyball net and court as a normal court. Then, drape a large sheet over the net so you can’t see the other side of the court (you might need two sheets for this). Once the court is set up, play a regular game of volleyball. The main difference is that the teams can't see what the other team is doing. Neither team will be able to guess where the volleyball will be coming fun, adding a new twist to the classic game.
5. Nine Square
Nine square is a new variation of four square, a classic recess game popular for younger children. Nine square takes the competition and team-building of four square and creates a new, engaging game perfect for family older kids and party games. The game is played on a lifted, three by three courts, creating nine squares lifted above the players’ heads. Each player stands in a square, with the middle square as the Queen or King square. The other squares rotate around the middle square as each player vies to earn their place in the center square.
A ball is thrown into the court and falls through one of the squares. That player must hit the ball up and out of their square and into another player’s square. If the ball falls and hits the ground in someone’s square, that player is out, and all the others move up a position to fill the space, introducing a new player to the game. If someone hits the ball out of the courts, that player is out and replaced.
This game is a perfect outdoor game for a family field day. It is constantly rotating, making sure that more than nine players are always actively participating.
6. Ultimate Frisbee
Ultimate Frisbee is a fun game to play with adults because it engages a large group of people. Ultimate frisbee is played similarly to American football. Two teams line up on opposite sides of the field. The team who isn’t starting throws the frisbee to the other side, and the starting team starts from where the frisbee lands. Players can catch and throw the frisbee as many times during a game but cannot move once they’ve caught the frisbee. The goal of the game is to catch the frisbee in the end zone of the other team. If a player catches the frisbee in the opposite team's end zone, they win a point. If the opposite team catches the frisbee in mid-air, the game switches, and the other team pivots to the offense.
7. Clothes Race
Doing a clothes relay is an easy way to get the entire group laughing and having fun. Bring bags of oversized clothes to the field day. Each person will be running the relay independently, so there’s no need to separate the group into teams. Have each person pick out an oversized shirt, oversized shorts, and a large jacket. Place the shirt and jacket on the other side of the short field and the shorts at the starting line. Everyone will line up and race to the other side, where they will put on the oversized shirt as quickly as possible. Once the short is one, they can run back to the starting line and put on the shorts. They will then run back to the other end and put on the jacket before racing back to the starting line. The first person to finish wins.
Another way to have a clothes relay is to split the group into two teams and give each team an oversized shirt. The first person in the line will put on the oversized shirt. The goal is to get the shirt from one side of the line to the other before the other team can finish. To pass the shirt, players will grasp their hands together while a third player will lift the shirt over the first person’s head and back down on the second person. The shirt must be pulled on and pulled down to fit before moving onto the next player.
8. Ice Breaker Race
Hosting an ice breaker race is one of the best games to play during summertime. This activity will need a full day of preparation, so make sure to give yourself enough time to plan ahead. To prepare, you will need a full set of oversized clothes for each team, with one clothing item per player on the teams. Tightly wrap each clothing item in a ball and then submerge the clothes in separate water buckets. Freeze the water overnight (this is the longest step). Once the clothes are frozen, you’re ready to play. Bring the frozen clothes balls to the field day and give each team a set of clothes. Also, hand them hammers, sticks, forks, spoons, and other tools to chip away at the ice. The first team to get their clothes out of the ice and either fully dress one member in all the clothes or have everyone wear at least one clothing item will win the game.
By the end, everyone will be laughing in fully soaked, oversized clothing. This game will cool everyone off as they slowly chip away at the ice blocks, making it a perfect icebreaker for large groups.
9. Life-Sized Battleship
Another great summer game is a life-sized battleship. To set up the game, find a volleyball court and string up sheets over the net, making it so that both sides are obscured from the other--make sure that you can’t see beneath the net. Then, have the teams lay down on both sides. Give the teams a bucket of filled water balloons. The starting team will launch a water balloon over the net and hope to land the water balloon on someone. The other team is not allowed to move, even when they see the water balloon flying over the net. The teams will take turns launching the balloons, trying to hit each player one time. For a longer field day activity, make it so that each player has to be hit twice for the other team to win.
Life-sized battleship is a suspenseful, hilarious game to play. It is one of the best water games to play with a large group because you can play with as many people as will fit on the court. It puts an interesting twist on a water balloon toss.
10. Mummy Wrap
A great idea for a field day game for both adults and kids is the Mummy Wrap. To play, all you will need is a Costco-sized bundle of toilet paper. Separate the group into teams, make sure that there are at least four people on each team. Select one person from each team to be the mummy. The other players on the teams will be tasked with wrapping the mummy head to toe with toilet paper as fast and efficiently as they can. At the end of a timer, the team with the best-wrapped mummy wins.
11. Pizza Box Run
Before playing your backyard games, order pizza for the group. When the pizza is gone, use their game to reuse the boxes. This game is a fun relay race that gets everyone up and moving after eating the pizza. For the game, each player will need a pizza box. You can get pizza boxes from your local chain pizza place. Split the group into two teams and then place half on the team on one side and the other half on the other side of the field, each player holding their pizza box. The first team member will run across the field with their pizza box and give it to the next player in line. They will run across the field with two pizza boxes and pass their pile to the third player. The relay continues until the team completes the race, with one person attempting to balance all of their pizza boxes as they race back to the finish line.
12. Splatter Painting
If you’re looking for a less intense idea, try splatter painting. This outdoor idea is perfect for large groups who want to spend most of their time talking rather than running. Both kids and adults will love splatter painting, though it would be better for a backyard game rather than a park game. For this activity, you will need large sheets of paper for each kid or adult participating and buckets of paint.
Roll out the paper on the ground and give everyone access to the paint. Show them how to dip a brush or their fingers into the paint and splatter it onto the paper canvas. There’s no or wrong way to paint with splatter painting. Have fun and create crazy designs.
13. Life-Size Hungry Hungry Hippos
Hungry Hungry Hippos is a common kid’s game. The game is played on a small board where all small plastic balls are rolling in a circular arena. The kids each control a tiny hippo that moves forward with its mouth open, swallowing the plastic balls. Take this classic childhood game and make it life-size.
To make the game life-size, you will need the following items:
- Longboards for each team
- Pool noodles cut into small pieces
- Ping pong balls
- Cornhole sacks
- Small laundry baskets for each team
In the center of a circular area (this can be marked with tape), place the pool noodle pieces, ping pong balls, and any other material you’ve collected. Each team will set up equal distance apart on the tape line around the circle. One team member will lay down on the skateboard while the other teammate holds their legs. In this position, the team member lying on the skateboard will hold out their laundry basket with their hands. The one holding onto their legs will push them out towards the center so he or she can capture balls using the basket. The team will pull the person back and deposit the balls. All of the participating teams will be playing simultaneously, meaning that the game will be fast-paced and competitive.
14. Fill the Bucket
Fill the Bucket is a game that has reference to the popular TV show, Survivor. To play, separate your group into teams. Place a large bucket on the other side of the playing field and a second bucket of wateron the starting side. Each player will need a plastic cup. The goal is to transport the water from one bucket to the other, but the team can only use the cups. This fun relay race is perfect for kids or adults.
To set up a bowling tournament outside, you will need bowling pins (or something shaped similarly such as plastic water bottles) and something heavy to roll (such as a softball). Set up the game and start bowling. This activity requires little preparation and is easy to set up and play without any notice. Both kids and adults will love playing this game at the park.
Virtual Field Day Activities
For those who can’t meet for a physical field day, host a virtual field day where everyone gets together outside in their different backyard over Zoom or Skype. Here are three easy ideas for a virtual field day event.
1. Among Us
The phone game Among Us has quickly taken over the App Store, becoming one of the most popular games of 2020. The idea for the game is that a group of eight astronauts is sent to space. Somehow, an alien takes control of one of the crewmates (you can also play with two or three imposters). The alien is trying to kill the astronauts while the astronauts try to guess who the alien is. The game is played with ten people who meet up in a virtual lobby. Once in the game, the app randomly selects two people to be the “imposter.” The imposter tries to kill the other players in the virtual game while everyone else tries to vote out the imposter.
2. I Spy
Playing I Spy is an easy virtual game that gets everyone up and moving. To play, make sure everyone has their video screen on, so you can see everyone participating in the field day. One person will start by saying, “I spy [a common household object].” Everyone else has to run and find the object in their home and bring it back to the screen. The first person to return with the object wins the round. The game continues until one person wins up to five points. This fun scavenger hunt gets everyone involved.
3. Fashion Show
For this fun activity, make sure everyone prepares the day before and creates an outfit from common household items. Then, one by one, have everyone show off their fashion show outfit by having them walk slowly towards their screen, pretending they're on a runway. This activity is great for both kids and adults because you can modify it to fit the needs of the people playing. You’re likely to see a few toilet paper outfits, several duct tape outfits, potato sack outfits, and a few outfits made out of food. When everyone has finished, vote for the favorites.