BOSTON (CBS) – Getting outdoors isn’t just about having fun. It can also have a real impact on your health and state of mind.

A statement like that doesn’t surprise Dan Smith of Charles River Canoe and Kayak in Newton. He loves to share his love of nature with just about anyone.

“Most people who come here have no experience,” said Smith. “We give them basic paddling safety information, how to handle their boat, go straight and turn; and they go out for an hour or two, and they have fun, and they come back with a big smile on their face,” he said.

WBZ-TV’s Todd Gutner reports

Smith says it is an opportunity to “enjoy the sunshine and see things that you won’t see wandering around in the city.”

Todd Gutner goes zip-lining, rafting

Studies show being outdoors can actually improve your health, by increasing your energy level, reducing tension, and reducing the likelihood of depression.

New Englanders are lucky to have lots of options to lure them outside. For example, you can try one of the many converted rail trails which are now bike ways. The 11 mile Minuteman Bikeway stretches from Arlington to Bedford.

Go explore Purgatory Chasm in Sutton for free. It’s a canyon created by glaciers 14,000 years ago and offers all kinds of different hiking terrains.

The Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Drumlin Farm in Lincoln is a great way to connect kids with nature. A working farm, they offer hayrides and a variety of hands-on agricultural exhibits.

Christy Foote Smith says Drumlin Farm is all about being outdoors. She hopes children pick up a new appreciation for nature, even from something simple like an egg.

By visiting their chicken coop, Foote Smith says kids are able “to see a freshly laid egg and know now that those eggs don’t come in cartons in the store, they come from the chicken.”

A trip out to the Berkshires can provide some real adrenaline-pumping options.

Ziplining is relatively new to Massachusetts, but it’s quickly growing in popularity, according to Kevin McMillan of Zoar Outdoor in Charlemont.

McMillan says zipping connects us to nature by getting us so close to the trees and feeling their movements. “It’s sort of a living organism and you are part of it,” he said.

Debbie Watcke had to overcome some butterflies to leap off 50-foot trees, but she was glad she did. “I love the mountains, so this is just another part of that experience,” she added.

Another thrilling experience can be had on the Deerfield River, navigating the rapids. Rafting might look scary, but just about anyone can do it.

Not only can you take in some beautiful views, but rafting is considered an environmentally sustainable activity. McMillan added that the positive affects are immediate. “I always think of rafting as the cheapest form of therapy, you know, you get out here and you can sort of even see people’s hearts beats slowing down, they start to relax,” he said.

You can also get the same benefit from a good walk. The Cape Cod National Seashore has miles of trails that wind through all kinds of settings.

The Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston has 132 acres of stunning landscapes to take in year round.

If you’re lucky, not only will you feel rejuvenated by getting outside, but you will create some great memories as well.


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