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Study finds outdoor time leads to better health; here’s where to spend it in NoVA

A recent study published in Scientific Reports has found that almost 60% of people benefit from two hours of time spent outdoors each week.

Kayaking on Fairfax Lake could be a great way to get in your two hours of outdoor time per week. (Photo courtesy of Fairfax County Park Authority)

Opt outside. It’s no longer just a catchy slogan you see on Instagram captions, a new study finds that spending a minimum of two hours per week in natural spaces, such as beaches, woodlands or parks, leads to better overall health.

The study, published in Scientific Reports (an open-access, interdisciplinary journal from Nature Research), surveyed roughly 20,000 British people and came to the conclusion that 59% of participants improved their odds for overall good health and 23% were better off in terms of their psychological well-being.

In addition to taking your typical jog around the block this week, check out these outdoor places around NoVA where you can reap the health benefits of outdoor time, and if you’re lucky, enjoy the peace and quiet too.

Public Parks
There’s something for everyone when it comes to NoVA’s public parks. Check out our guide on where you can host a pick-up game, browse the gardens and just get yourself moving beyond your backyard. If you’re looking for something more structured (and tucked away in the woods), here’s where to play disc golf around NoVA. If your kids are looking for a way to enjoy the sun while perfecting their kick flips, here’s a list of local skate parks, too.

Biking and Jogging Trails
Getting outdoors sounds great, but what if you’re a little directionally challenged? Check out this guide to find locations across NoVA that have paved walkways and endless mapped miles that will have you enjoying the outdoors in no time.

Hiking
It’s surprising just how quickly you can access a hiking trail in NoVA, only to be minutes away from a beautiful overlook or a natural landscape that’s a complete change of scenery from a traffic-filled highway. Check out this guide on five local hikes and take in the views and some fresh air.

Water Activities
Spending time at outdoor parks doesn’t necessarily have to be on land. Here’s a list of places where you can spend some time fishing on the dock, paddling a kayak or pedal boating with the family.

Beach
We know, we know. There is no shoreline to run to in NoVA that can satisfy a two-hour weekly desire to spend some time in the sand. But, there is a “beach,” in Bethesda at Pike & Rose, where you can tuck your toes. If you’re looking to get a little more beach activity, here’s a list of beach volleyball locations around NoVA.

No matter where you spend your time in a local park, beach or wooded area, just remember: your body and mind will thank you for it.

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