Mother, Father, Daughter, and Son enjoying a hike in the forest

How Enjoying the Fall Colors Can Improve Your Health

Feeling stressed out, depressed, tired? Having problems with allergies and colds? Good news! Choosing to be outside in nature can improve both your mental and physical health.

If hanging out in a sunny spot in the woods, sitting in a lotus position, chanting “om,”  are not your thing, that’s okay. There are other fun ways to spend time outside that will still reap all the following health benefits.

Lower stress levels

Being in nature can lower your stress levels. Spending as little as 20 minutes walking or sitting in the great outdoors has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol significantly.

So, getting out, and looking at the fall colors, can have more benefits than just being a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Try hitting the Glacial Lakes Trail, on foot or by bike, and get some exercise while soaking in the sunshine. Glacial Lakes Trail is a 22-mile paved trail running between Willmar, Spicer, New London, Hawick, and the Kandiyohi/Stearns County line.

When you need to stop for a quick bite, try one of the many Zorbaz locations in the area. One of which is less than a quarter-mile off the trail in Spicer. Sunshine and exercise are both a great way to reduce stress.

Eggs, milk, cheese, kale, salmon arranged in a circle on a wood table around a chalk drawing of the words "vitamin D"

More vitamin D

A lack of vitamin D has also been linked to fatigue and depression. 50% of the general population is estimated to be vitamin D deficient. Just drinking your milk and eating your fortified cereal is not enough.

Too much time inside, in the office, and in front of video screens is adding to this statistic. Exposing your skin to sunlight causes your body to create vitamin D. So, get out there and get some sunshine!

There is always the classic fall road trip as a way to get in some sun and fresh air. Roll down the windows. Pick a scenic highway around the lakes and off you go.

Finish off your relaxing drive with a visit to O’Neil’s in Spicer. From Provolone Cheese sticks to Parmesan Walleye to Flatbreads and Pizzas, there is something on their menu for everyone.

Hopefully, the weather is still cooperating, and dinner on the patio will allow you to get even more vitamin D. Definitely worth the trip and you get some health benefits to boost!

Gray tabby cat sleeping on back with paw covering his eyes

Better sleep

Natural light regulates your sleep cycle. If you’re feeling tired, make sure you are getting enough natural light during the day, so your body knows to go to sleep at night and stay asleep.

Make sure to throw those golf clubs in the trunk before you head out. As long as you take some time between shots to enjoy the beautiful scenery around you and don’t let your blood pressure rise if you land in the bunker, you are golden. Enjoy a round of 18 and get enough fresh air and natural light to help you sleep well at night.

Island Pine Golf Club will be open weekends through October. You can book a tee time online or just stop in during these quieter fall weekends.

Improved immune system

Spending time in nature will protect you from things like seasonal allergies and colds by increasing your white blood cell count. White blood cells are the backbone of your immune system. A better immune system means less susceptibility to viruses and other creeping crud.

Start your reconnection with nature by stopping at a sporting goods store, like Mel’s Sport Shop in Spicer, and grab a ball or some lawn games. You could also pick up a couple of pop up chairs to set up and watch the game when it’s not your turn.

Drive to one of the many amazing parks in the area, pull out those chairs and lawn games, and soak up the sunshine and fall colors.

Want to make this outing with nature last longer? After you Head into Sibley State Park and enjoy the trails, climb the observation tower to see the colors from above.

Then, book one of the Camper Cabins, available seven days a week through October. They are available Thursdays through Sundays starting in November.

Leave the phone in the car and enjoy an evening just staring at the stars and awakening to crisp fall air and a kaleidoscope of fall color.

Fall leaves photographed from ground level looking out to a nearby woods

When to go?

Now that you know the fall colors can provide you more than just a pretty view, when is the best time for fall colors in your area? Check out this handy interactive map. Use the slider bar at the bottom to find out when the colors will peak wherever you are in the US.

A road trip that includes biking, lawn games, a little golf, and a few nights camping – now that’s the way to take in the fall colors. The fact that it will result in less stress, a stronger immune system, and a better night’s sleep — well, that just makes it all the more worthwhile!


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