Happy June! If you did not know, June is Great Outdoors Month. As recreation and park professionals, we are tasked with promoting the benefits of nature. This wellness blog will detail some of the benefits of getting outdoors, and some engaging ways to get your community out in your parks.
The wellness blog content has talked extensively about the benefits of nature in the past. I am a huge believer that time spent outdoors is very valuable for one's health. Check out one of our old blog posts that goes into the benefits of the great outdoors. Fortunately, there is a lot of science that supports my belief.
Business Insider published an article in 2016 containing 11 scientifically proven benefits of spending time outdoors. The list includes improved short term memory, reduced inflammation, better vision, & sharper thinking and creativity. Click this link to read the article in its entirety.
Most scientists also agree the outdoor exercise is generally more beneficial than equal indoor programs. An article published by the New York Times expanded upon this. “Outdoor exercise tends, too, to be more strenuous than the indoor version.” The article went on to say “In studies comparing the exertion of running on a treadmill and the exertion of running outside, treadmill runners expended less energy to cover the same distance as those striding across the ground outside, primarily because indoor exercisers face no wind resistance or changes in terrain, no matter how subtle.”
The New York Times article also concluded that outdoor activities generally bring participants more happiness than their indoor activity counterparts. “In a number of recent studies, volunteers have been asked to go for two walks for the same time or distance — one inside, usually on a treadmill or around a track, the other outdoors. In virtually all of the studies, the volunteers reported enjoying the outside activity more.”
Since the weather is warm this time of year, try holding normal indoor events outdoors! Some ideas for this could include holding open gym basketball or pickleball outdoors a few days per month. This promotes being outside, and can be a fun change from the normal routine.
Another idea to get people outside is to hold a photo scavenger hunt challenge. Pick one of your departments outdoor facilities and encourage your community to go exploring. Choose a few landmarks along the trail and write clues describing them. Participants then take a photo of each item on the hunt and show a designated staff person to win a small prize. Encourage participants to share their photos on social media. Photo scavenger hunts are a great way to get people outside to explore your facilities, and to get people excited about going outdoors.
Additionally, look to capitalize on current trends that are taking place outdoors. Trends like geocaching and Pokemon Go bring many people outdoors everyday. Always try to be aware of trends that will bring people to your parks, and try to come up with creative ways to cater activities towards participants.
I hope that you have learned a bit more about Great Outdoors month, and why promoting outdoor activity is important! I encourage you to register for our NCRPA June Wellness Webinar focused on Stand-up paddle boards, an exciting outdoor program. Kevin Pimentel from Mecklenburg County joins us on June 21st at 1:00 pm to detail the County's paddle-board program. Learn ideas and tips to get a similar program up and running in your department. Click here to register!
Until next time,