San Diego Zoo: a Healthy Way to Spend Your Day

In addition to our beautiful beaches, great museums, and excellent tacos, San Diego is also known for our world-class zoo! Spending a day at the San Diego Zoo is fun—but did you know it’s also healthy? Here are five reasons why your body and mind will thank you for a visit to the zoo.


1. It’s exercise!

The zoo covers 100 acres, which is a lot to explore! Walking at a moderate pace burns about 60-70 calories per half-hour, so just think of what you’ll walk off during an entire day. In addition to burning calories, walking reduces your risk for serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure—and it can also improve your mood and coordination.  Bottom line: you’ll be able to skip the gym that day!


2. You’ll learn something new

A trip to the zoo means exercise for your brain, not just your body. At the San Diego Zoo, you’ll find 650 species and subspecies, 3,500 rare or endangered animals, and 700,000 exotic plants. You’ll be encountering all kinds of animals and plants, maybe even some that you’ve never heard of before! Pay attention to the information posted at each exhibit, and you’re guaranteed to go home with a ton of new factoids. Your brain will thank you—learning is important for healthy aging and maintaining a sharp mind.


3. Animals are therapeutic

It’s believed that petting an animal releases endorphins, which boosts your mood, relaxes you, and makes you feel happier. At the zoo, you won’t be able to pet all the animals (especially not the bears!) but you can visit the Petting Paddock to pet goats and sheep.


4. You won’t have to sacrifice a healthy meal

Although the San Diego Zoo has its fair share of fried foods, there are also plenty of healthy options. At Albert’s, a sit-down treehouse restaurant named after one of the zoo’s most beloved gorillas, you can choose from healthy options, such as farro chopped salad, salmon salad, and a Mediterranean wrap.


5. Sunlight, fresh air, and happiness, oh my!

You’d be surprised how many health benefits you’ll scoop up just by being outside! Spending some time in the sunlight and fresh air is all too important in our modern world of Netflix and instant delivery services.

The zoo’s 700,000 plants contribute to a lot of fresh air. Breathing in fresh air can energize you, decrease stress, make you feel happier, and help you sleep better. It can also improve digestion and strengthen your immune system.

The sunlight you’ll soak up while you’re walking around the zoo has some amazing benefits as well – as long as you’re wearing your sunscreen. Exposure to sunlight can trigger the release of serotonin, which can make you feel happy, calm, and focused. It also causes your skin to create Vitamin D, which is good for your bones and brain function.

The sun can even help with more serious health concerns, as well—when the sun hits your skin, nitric oxide is released into your blood vessels, which can keep your blood pressure down and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. And while we all know that the sun can cause skin cancer, it can actually lower your risk of other cancers, including prostate and breast cancer.


Looking for more ideas for healthy activities? Browse more Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups articles.


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