A good book and the great outdoors—it’s a perfect match! Both activities are ultra-relaxing and can have major health benefits, so why not enjoy them both at the same time? Grab your favorite outdoor reading chair and a book or magazine, find a peaceful spot, and reap the many benefits of reading outside.
Easy on the Eyes
Move over, desk lamp—there’s a better light source for getting lost in the pages of a book, and it’s free, available everywhere, and never needs re-charging. That’s right, we’re talking about the sun! Natural light is the best for reading because its brightness improves contrast, helping you avoid eye strain.
In children, bright sunlight helps the eyes develop, and in older adults, substantially brighter light is needed in order to read comfortably—so taking that book outside is a great idea for the entire family.
Still, on sunny days or in certain locations, sun glare can be a problem (particularly if you prefer e-readers to physical books). To mitigate glare, and to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays, opt for an outdoor reading chair with a built-in shade. Our top picks are the SunShade Rocker™ and Pod Rocker™ with SunShade, which both have an adjustable canopy made of UPF 50+ fabric. Rotate the shade from front to back to find the perfect spot, or collapse it flat for cloudy days and for convenient storage. Plus, the smooth rocking of these chairs can help you stay in motion while you read, so you’ll be engaged but relaxed.
Ever wonder why spending the day outside makes you feel so refreshed? One reason might be that your body produces vitamin D during periods of sun exposure. This vitamin is essential for staying physically healthy; it helps keep your bones strong and boosts your immune system to protect you against colds and infections.
So while you’re soaking up the sun, kick back and reach for something to read. Reading offers proven health benefits of its own, including lower blood pressure and a reduced resting heart rate.
Our favorite ways to kick stress to the curb include spending time outside and curling up with a book, so it only seems natural to combine these activities into a single, stress-busting session! The production of vitamin D boosts more than just your immune system—it can also lift up your mood, something we all need from time to time.
In fact, studies have shown that time spent in nature increases happiness and overall life satisfaction. Similarly, studies prove that reading for pleasure improves feelings of well-being while reducing symptoms of depression.
The best part? This stress-reduction technique can be done anywhere. Whether you’re at work or home, watching the kids’ game or at the campground, a comfortable outdoor rocker can help you get from A to Zen. GCI’s Kickback Rocker™ is both compact and lightweight, so it’s perfect to keep stashed in your trunk for whenever you have a few quiet moments to read. Setup is easy, and its low seat and smooth rocking motion will have you relaxing in no time.
With all of your stress melting away, you’re bound to sleep better, right? It’s true that we sleep better when our minds are at ease, but there’s additional research to suggest that reading outdoors during the day can help you catch some Z’s at night.
Foremost, sunlight has a powerful effect on our circadian rhythms, the natural processes that control our sleep-wake cycles. Spending time outdoors in the bright light helps to regulate your internal clock—leading to a longer, more restful night’s sleep. So when you read outside, you’re doing more than getting absorbed into a story; you’re also absorbing sunlight and resetting your circadian rhythm.
Another great reason to take your book outdoors is to get out of your bedroom or sleeping space. Yes, it may be the comfiest spot in the house, but for those who have trouble falling asleep, it’s not recommended to read, work, or do other tasks in your bedroom. In other words, the bedroom should be reserved for sleep. But the backyard is still fair game!
A Boost for the Brain
Reading is wonderful for the mind—it can expand your vocabulary, improve your memory, and strengthen your brain’s connectivity, while helping to prevent age-related cognitive decline. Taking your book outside can lead to even better engagement with it, as the sunlight boosts your energy and concentration, leaving you feeling alert and focused. This is true for children as well: as you read together, kids can hone their attention skills and can make deeper connections to the world around them.