The Outdoors and Happiness
Participating in outdoor recreation activities is a great way to get daily exercise. Whether that be hiking, walking in the park, scuba diving, or getting in the woods come hunting season. With such a vast national and state park system, the United States allows for a plethora of landscape to explore and connect with nature. In my home state of Michigan, the DNR covers 103 state park and recreation areas that cover over 306,000 acres that allow for a plethora of activities for residents to pick from(1). Many cities in Michigan are beginning to incorporate more green space into the city limits as well, expanding outdoor opportunities.
Spending time outdoors is a fun way to relax, spend time with friends, and explore new places. There is also growing evidence to suggest outdoor recreation also has health benefits. Epidemiological evidence is starting to show that contact with natural environments is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, hospitalization due to asthma, and mental distress. All the aforementioned benefits of contact with nature lead to reduced mortality(2).
A recent study published in Nature attempted to quantify the relationship between self-reported health and well-being and time spent outdoors. What the researchers found, after taking multiple variables into account, was that >120 minutes of outdoor contact per week was associated with higher self-reported health and well-being(2). Unfortunately, the authors left out some activities such as gardening that many people enjoy and use to get outdoors. Go to michigandnr.com for more information on ways to enjoy the outdoors of Michigan.
Clearly being engaged with outdoor activities has a multitude of benefits other than being good for your health. Do you feel the same way as those in the study? What else do you get from being outdoors? Let me know and keep on moving and enjoying the outdoors!
1. Park System. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2019, from https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-350-79136_79240_83696---,00.html
2. White MP, Alcock I, Grellier J, et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing OPEN. Nature. 2019. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3