The Summer Solstice is the Longest Day of the Year—Here’s How to Get Out and Enjoy the Sun All Day Long

June 20, also known as the summer solstice, is the longest day of the year. And while how long the day is will vary based on where you live, one thing is for sure—on June 20, you’ll have more daylight hours to experience than any other time in 2021.

And with all that daylight comes plenty of opportunity for enjoying outdoor activities. But what, exactly, should you plan to do on June 20 to get outside, get moving, and enjoy those extra daylight hours?

Let’s take a look at some of the outdoor activities you’ll want to consider working into your schedule this summer solstice (and the health benefits you’ll get as a result):

Start the day with sunrise yoga 

There’s a reason that so many productivity experts sing the praises of a morning routine; how you start your day is generally how you continue your day. So, if you want to make the most out of your summer solstice (and all the outdoor fun to come!), why not kick off your day with a bit of mindful movement?

“A morning yoga session can put you in a mindful and alert state of mind as you continue with your day,” says Dr. Aniko Dunn, Psy.D. at EZCareClinic.

Yoga has been shown to release both physical and mental stress, which can set you up to feel more relaxed and calm throughout the day. So grab a mat, head outside, and greet the summer solstice sunrise with a series of sun salutations.

Don’t practice yoga regularly? As it turns out, prioritizing an AM summer solstice flow may actually help you get into a more regular yoga routine (and reap the health benefits in the process). A 2017 study from the American Psychological Association found that participants that started their day with stretching had an easier time transforming that stretching into a habit than participants who did their stretches before bed.

Head out for a nature walk at lunch

If you spend the morning working, it’s not uncommon to feel drained, tired, or sluggish by the time lunch rolls around. But luckily, a quick walk outside can be all you need to get your mood and energy back on track.

“Walking is one of the best ways to boost your mood,” says licensed professional counselor Jennifer Blough, owner of Deepwater Counseling and The Compassion Fatigue Couch. “Walking for even just 30 minutes a day—especially in nature—can act as a natural antidepressant, releasing ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain.”

Walking outside can also help lower stress and has been shown to “reduce rumination and activity in the prefrontal cortex,” says John La Puma, MD, FACP, founder of EcoMedicine

If you’re struggling to get things done this June 20, a quick “lunchtime nature walk” can also help you refocus for the afternoon ahead. A recent study found that spending 29 minutes outdoors translated to a 45 percent increase in productivity. 

And as an added bonus to your lunchtime summer solstice walk? Sunshine peaks at the middle of the day, making it the perfect time to get outside and soak up some vitamin D (aka “the sunshine vitamin”), which plays a crucial role in everything from immune function to mood regulation to calcium absorption

Grab a friend for a round of afternoon tennis

Sunrise yoga and a lunchtime walk are great ways to enjoy the summer solstice. But, at some point, you may want to push yourself and really work up a sweat. And a great way to get your sweat on—and socialize (safely!) at the same time? A rousing round of tennis.

“Tennis, as with all other types of exercise, causes the brain to release endorphins and serotonin,” says Dunn. “Both of these are known to uplift your mood.”

Not only can the endorphins you get from sweating it out during a tennis match put you in a better mood, but the social aspect of playing with a friend can also make you feel happier—and because tennis is a no contact sport that’s played on opposite ends of the court, it allows you to practice social distancing (and keep you and your tennis partner safe). 

Go for a solo run before the sun goes down

On the summer solstice, daylight stretches well into the evening hours—which gives you an additional late-in-the-day opportunity to get outside and enjoy the longest day of the year. So, before the sun goes down, lace up your shoes and head outside for a run.

Running offers a host of health benefits—and an evening run is a great way to clear your head and set yourself up for a relaxing, restful night. “Running at sunset offers you an opportunity to sweat off any stress and frustrations from the day and end your evening with a peaceful and calm workout that can turn into a form of moving meditation,” says Tyler Read, certified personal trainer and CEO of PTPioneer.

Running outside may also help you feel better than if you tackled that same distance inside on a treadmill. One 2017 study found that outdoor activity yielded more positive (and fewer negative) results than tackling that same activity indoors. “Outdoor running… improves happiness and calmness and is less fatiguing and anxiety-producing than indoor treadmill running for the same distance and time,” says La Puma. 

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