Three Outdoor Activities to Reduce Your Screen Time and Recharge Your Spirit
In a world that’s never been more easily connected, the average American spends about 11 hours per day on a device. According to the Nielsen Total Audience Report, whether we’re scrolling through social media, watching TV or video, swiping through mobile apps or perusing digital media, the majority of the population’s pastimes revolve around staring at a screen; which can be a little bit… disconcerting.
This unprecedented engagement with technology is also causing an influx of digitally-induced afflictions. “Facebook Depression,” for example, is an actual disorder that correlates social media usage to depression and loneliness.
“Cell Phone Addiction” is also considered one of the greatest addictions of the 21st century, causing all kinds of physical and psychological issues, including rigidity and muscle pain, ocular afflictions, fatigue, insomnia and a loss of interest in social and recreational endeavors. And according to the Journal of American Medical Association, the risk of developing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms more than doubles with high screen use.
With all this time spent adapting the body to meet our digital demands, the physical effects of stress take their toll. The strained position of the head and neck with device use is known as “Tech Neck.” It causes unnecessary stress on the spine and reinforces poor posture patterns—bringing some serious long-term consequences such as disc degeneration, arthritis and chronic pain.
The good news is, spending time outside is one of the best ways to undo all that digital damage. Here are three outdoor activities that reverse the negative effects of screen time and recharge your spirit:
1. Paddling and Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Paddling puts your muscles in the perfect position to open up the front line, stretch and strengthen the shoulders and stimulate the trapezius muscles to combat all that hunching over. Activities like kayaking and canoeing build overall endurance and can carry us to some of the most scenic destinations Maine has to offer. Some studies show that our connection to nature increases attentional capacity and positive emotions, decreases stress and even enhances our ability to solve life problems.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is a fun alternative to traditional paddling and provides a full-body workout at the same time. On top of engaging the entire upper body, SUP flexes deep core muscles to keep you upright and cruising across your favorite body of water.
2. Hiking the Ergo Way
The world’s most tried, true and time-honored pastime — hiking, is one of the easiest ways to get away from your desk for even just an hour. Just you, your backpack and the profound sounds of nature. The benefits of hiking are almost too many to list: cardiovascular engagement, decreased blood pressure and stress, overall enhancement in physical and mental wellbeing, and most importantly: restored attention. There’s no WiFi in the woods, so there’s no temptation to break your focus.
To maintain healthy alignment, however, choose your backpack wisely. Ergonomic backpacks are padded for your spine, designed to reduce the strain on your neck, easy to adjust, and facilitate overall ease in your hiking experience. Some important features to look for include wide straps, a waist strap, multiple compartments to evenly distribute weight and proper contact of the body with the pack. The more adjustable the pack, the more comfortable and enjoyable your hike will be.
Swimming is a low-impact aerobic activity that reduces joint stress, increases personal strength and promotes overall spinal decompression. It’s also a chance to connect with nature in a truly immersive way.
Whether it’s charging through the ocean waves, drifting down a flowing river or floating along a calm lake or pond, swimming offers you the chance to build up a healthier spine and reverse the dreaded screen time.
However you choose to engage with the outdoors, remember to put the phone away. A simple reset is often the best remedy for tech burnout. Get outside, get moving and experience all the offscreen Maine has to offer!
— Text: LeeMarie Kennedy. LeeMarie is a copywriter and content marketing specialist in Boston, Massachusetts. When she’s not meticulously wordsmithing, she can be found teaching as a certified yoga instructor, exploring her own yoga practice, traveling the world, laughing, drinking coffee or eating something delicious.