Sunshine is the best medicine


Hannah Smith

Columbine flower seen on hike on the American Lake trail.

Picture this: it’s a pleasant sunny day, and you are standing under the beaming glimmers of warm sun rays, with a lovely little breeze. To most, this experience makes them feel delightful, relaxed even. What most are unaware of is the plethora of benefits that spending time outside has on humans, physically and mentally. The vast majority of high school students spend most of their day indoors, beneath their school roofs. Teachers and students at AHS believe that getting outside is a key concept of thriving as a student.

Scientifically, there is a vast range of benefits from going outside, and how it impacts your health. Getting outside on a sunny day can improve your vitamin D levels, which are essential to maintaining a healthy well being. According to Harvard’s Medical School, vitamin D has positive effects against everything from osteoporosis, to cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. Additionally, Vitamin D can improve your mental well being. Also according to Harvard’s Medical School, vitamin D can have beneficial effects against depression. Harvard also says that being outside can elevate mood and concentration.

Diana Dame, a 9th and 10th grade English teacher, agrees that spending time outdoors is vital to a healthier well being.

“There is a ton of research that shows that being outside in nature helps reduce anxiety, depression, emotional instability because of trauma or abuse. Connecting with nature has all sorts of positive influences on our physical being,” Dame said.

Ms. Dame also wants to give her students the opportunity to experience first hand the benefits of getting outside, by allowing students to have a mindful minute outside.

“I think if you are able to really clear your head of all your thoughts and allow yourself to be present, it naturally will lead to you being able to physically connect to your surroundings, which has all of these positive scientific effects on your body. So, if I can provide an experience for my students to at least know what it feels like to be outside and clear their minds they might be open to how beautiful and important the land we live on is,” Dame said.

Students who participate in outdoor sports do get the opportunity to be outside after their school day, however. Dave Fuentes, the AHS Varsity softball coach and assistant coach for the baseball team, believes that getting outside at some point during your day is also full of benefits.

“I actually think it’s one of the key components of maintaining a healthy lifestyle as a student. One of the philosophies that I have is that no matter what’s going on with school, competing in a sport will give you the opportunity to take a little break from the stresses of school and allow you to really kind of relax and unwind,” said Fuentes.

Being outdoors post-school can benefit your mental health as well, as it can improve people’s moods and relieve stress.

“I do think that after a good practice where everybody is being proactive and everybody’s working on what we’ve decided to work on, the mood is a much better, much more relaxed, a little bit lighter, and I do enjoy seeing the stress of the day kinda melt away,” Fuentes said.

Sports are just one approach to getting outside after a long day inside. One can also take a bike ride, go for a run or walk, or even just spending lunchtime outdoors to help achieve these benefits. One may be deterred from going outside on a chilly, snowy day, but there are many solutions. With warm layers of clothing, one could participate in winter activities such as snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.

Josh Berro, a counselor at AHS, also concurs that getting outdoors is a crucial part of your day, even on snowy winter days.

“During the winter, the days are shorter, it’s colder, and you might not want to go outside, but its still really important again for that change of pace and scenery,” Berro said.

Getting outdoors, especially as a student, is a vital factor in obtaining a healthy physical and mental well being. People and students can find a way to get outdoors through their schedules, and in doing so they can achieve the plethora of benefits that go along with going outside.