Experiencing the Outdoors Can Improve Your Health
It turns out “the outdoors are good for you” according to National Park Service Director, Jonathan Jarvis. Of course, this is something that outdoorsman have known for quite some time. However, this knowledge has just recently started a moment in parks of all sizes across the U.S. including U.S. National Parks. The U.S. National Park Service is getting behind this movement with its national “Healthy Parks Healthy People” campaign set to kickoff October 30th at the APHA’s 139th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Jarvis, who is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at this event, shared his thoughts on this promotion in an interview with Teddi Dineley Johnson in association with The Nation’s Health.
Jarvis provided more insight into the thoughts of the U.S. National Park Service as he revealed three key reasons for the organization’s involvement in this promotion. He stated that Americans look to the National Park Service as an iconic gauge of the care that our outdoor environments are receiving. Therefore, the efforts behind the “Healthy Parks Healthy People” help people feel that their parks are being taken care of, they are more apt to plan a visit or vacation to one or more of the parks. Secondly, we know that our environment – including the air quality, water quality, pollution, etc – is directly linked to human health. If our parks’ natural environment are taken care of, this will directly affect human health, and will hopefully start a trend that will trickle down to local parks and even our own backyards. Lastly, the single most important factor Jarvis sited in how healthy parks result is healthy people is that citizens must actively participate in experiencing the great outdoors in order to maximize the health benefits from our environment.
Parks across the nation are getting on board with this movement. Some parks are planning and coordinating special activities and inviting citizens to come out and participate in the park activities. Jarvis stated, “Badlands National Park has a program called Walking the Badlands, where local fourth-graders come out and make healthy choices.” Additionally, Muir Woods National Monument in California has started a movement by asking its food vendors to only serve food grown organically. With such mainstream parks getting behind this movement, the hope is that smaller, local parks will be inspired to get on board with this movement in their own creative ways.
Whether you enjoy RVing, tent camping, hiking, fishing or any other outdoor activity, you should always keep in mind that such activities are good for your health. So don’t feel guilty for taking off one afternoon to enjoy the outdoors. After all, it just may result in your staying on this earth to enjoy its beautiful environment for just a little while longer.
To find a U.S. National Park close to you, visit http://www.nps.gov.