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The Benefits of Reading Outside

Summer is winding down and somehow, it’s already August. Summer reading will be wrapping up this week. Be sure to turn in your summer reading logs by August 11 for all sorts of fun prizes. Every completed log inches us closer to accomplishing our goal of planting a tree.

Back-to-school supplies are making their way into the backpacks of children, the sun has officially begun setting before 9pm, and even Halloween decorations are out for purchase!

Summer moves fast. Too fast. I’ve often said that there’s no season more fleeting than a Michigan summer. Setting my busy schedule aside and slowing down to read often feels like a luxury these days, but when I make space for that opportunity I try to get outside and read as much as possible.

Did you know that there are many benefits to reading outside? Research has widely proven that time spent outside can improve your mood, focus, and concentration. For outdoor readers, this is especially true when compared to those reading indoors with artificial light. Other studies have shown that reading outside is helpful in reducing stress, anxiety, and eye strain.

Books have always been a great way to unwind, but reading outside provides added benefits. Reading in a park for just 30 minutes can lower cortisol levels and increase self-esteem. Furthermore, researchers believe that the combination of fresh air and plenty of sunlight helps to regulate the body's circadian rhythms, often resulting in better sleep at night and more energy throughout the day.

Ever since my kids were babies, I’ve taken them outside when they were inconsolable and it’s always—knock on wood—worked like magic. Even a quick trip to the mailbox does the trick sometimes. Being outside is calming, especially compared to the overstimulation of sights, sounds, and tasks asking for our attention inside.

I love to read on the front porch after the kids go to bed, or by the willow trees at Heritage Park when I can sneak away for a moment. Other favorite places I like to read and relax are in a hammock suspended between trees, by a large body of water, or next to the campfire. Even a soft patch of grass beneath a shady tree will do.

I love reading outside, and as summer comes to an end, I’m trying to be more intentional about opening the front door and reading with every minute of sunshine and warmth I can get.

Whether you’re finding a park bench, the shade of a tree, stepping out onto your front porch, or settling into another favorite spot, consider this a friendly nudge to take your book outside and read. Before we know it, August will be behind us, the air will turn crisp, and the leaves will begin to change. But for now, we bask in the warmth of these end-of-summer reading days. Happy reading!

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