“Park…visitation soared after 9/11. The experience of nature confers a sense of sanity.
It bestows a spiritual calmness that helps people cope.”
– Ruth Coleman, Director of California State Parks
This article will go live while we’re packing the cars for an annual family camping trip (thank you technology!) and that yearly sojourn has inspired today’s focus.
“Improved mental engagement, increased self-awareness, and clarification of values- all gained through introspection, creative engagement and expression of spiritual renewal- are some of the scientifically documented outdoor recreation benefits, according to a lengthy study completed by the California State Parks Commission ( 2005, p.21).
Getting outside makes us well, simply put. And not just once a year. For those who get outside regularly, for fun or for fitness—like when I run, which is where these pictures come from—there is a marked, consistent “improvement in mental well-being: compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy and positive engagement, together with decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression” as noted in the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry’s vast study. Further, they noted that “Participants also reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and stated that they were more likely to repeat the activity at a later date.” (2011).
“The evidence strongly suggests that participation in outdoor recreation, particularly as a child, leads people to have more satisfying and fulfilling lives.” (CSP, 2005, p.22). But we know this stuff. We know it in our bones, in our hearts, in our souls. So, today we’re not going to have a data-driven exhortation to go outside. How ironic it would be to sit at the computer and read about how beneficial it is to go camping or for a hike, a walk or a run! Today there will be some science and some quotes, but over-all, the point is the pictures. Each one was inspired by the natural moment I found myself in, each one is to serve as inspiration to get out and see for ourselves.
So, enjoy the pictures–they’re worth thousands of words—and let’s let nature speak for herself.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
– Lao Tzu, Ancient Chinese Philosopher
“Self-expression and identity affirmation is positively reinforced through participation in recreation activities. Recreation helps us explore our inner spirit and sense of self, creating new behaviors and a new identity. It is becoming more common to identify with the activities we participate in, seeing ourselves as ‘hikers’, ‘swimmers’ or ‘soccer players’, rather than with the positions we hold at work.” (CSP, 2005, p. 21)
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
– John Burroughs, Naturalist and Essayist
The Health and Social Benefits of Recreation The Health and Social Benefits of Recreation: An Element of the California Outdoor Recreation Planning Program (2005) California State Parks. Retrieved from: http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/795/files/benefits%20final%20online%20v6-1-05.pdf
The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. “Benefits of outdoor exercise confirmed.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2011. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110204130607.htm