“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy. Sunshine on my eyes makes me cry.” Although John Denver wrote and sang these lyrics decades ago, they still hold true. Soaking in the sunshine and spending times outdoors may impact our mood.

There are plenty of outdoor activities to pursue, especially if you live in an area as vibrant as Sarasota County:

Swimming

Swimming is a fun and healthy activity, and there are few better places to pursue that pastime than Sarasota County. The county offers an abundance of places to swim, including beaches such as the renowned Siesta Key Beach.

Swimming is a great activity because it’s an exercise that is:

  • Weight-bearing and doesn’t tax the joints.
  • Physically refreshing on a hot day.
  • Visually pleasing because of the beaches’ natural beauty.
  • Relaxing because it takes us away from our normal routine and into the water.

Like other forms of exercise, swimming may help keep us physically and mentally healthy. That’s not a bad deal for an activity that just requires some water and a swimsuit.

Spending time with animals

Do you love animals? Do you want to meet other people who love them just as much as you do?

Residents and visitors of Sarasota County are lucky. The county has a number of parks just for dogs or other parks or designated areas that welcome them.

If wild animals are more your thing, Sarasota County has you covered there as well. Numerous parks in the area provide ample opportunities for watching birds and all sorts of animals in their natural habitats.

Spending time with animals and in nature may provide many benefits, including:

  • Stress relief. If we’re less stressed, we may be less anxious, less depressed, or less prone to abuse drugs or alcohol. We’re better able to appreciate the present without worrying about the past or the future.
  • Companionship. If we’re around animals, we’re in the company of friends. If we visit dog parks, we’ll meet other pet owners who may become new human friends. Such companionship may provide another way to fight stress.
  • Health benefits. Did you know that sunshine helps us form vitamin D in our bodies? Scientists believe that the vitamin may help us prevent depression, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune conditions, heart disease, falls, and fractures.

Taking time to learn

Who says people only learn in classrooms? You may learn about Sarasota County without ever stepping foot in a school:

  • Trolley tours allow people to explore the neighborhoods and cultural attractions of Sarasota County in air-conditioned comfort.
  • Guided hikes at Sarasota’s Myakka River State Park allow people to learn about the geography of Florida while completing intense workouts.
  • Kayak excursions are other ways of experiencing what Sarasota County has to offer, this time on water.

Whether traveling by trolley, kayak, or foot, people may learn about the people, places, history, and geography of Sarasota. Learning helps us exercise our minds and encourages us to interact with others, activities that can help us keep intellectually and emotionally healthy.

Engaging in outdoor activities may engage us mentally and physically. Sunshine on our shoulders may make us very happy indeed.

Guest blogger: Nicole Allen is a freelance educator and writer based in Michigan and believes that her writing is an extension of her career as a tutor since they both encourage learning and discussing new things. When she isn’t writing, you might find Nicole running, hiking, or swimming. She’s participated in several 10K races and hopes to compete in a marathon one day.


MENTAL HEALTH COMMUNITY CENTERS (MHCC). IS A REGISTERED 501c3 WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE #04-3585931 AND WITH FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS # CH38125 A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED BY THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS BY CALLING TOLL FREE 800-435-7352, WITHIN THE STATE OR VISITING: WWW.800HELPFLA.COM. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.”