I stumbled upon an article recently entitled, “What Hiking Does To The Brain is Pretty Amazing” by Michael W. Pirrone. A study was conducted and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science about how spending time outdoors and diving into nature can improve your overall health. The study concluded that participants who spent 90 minutes walking in a natural area experienced a decreased blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex, opposed to those who spent 90 minutes in a high-traffic urban setting. The subgenual prefrontal cortex is the section of your brain that regulates cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functions i.e. increased blood flow to this section of your brain can cause ‘bad moods’ or poor mental health.
Because Americans now spend on average about 93% of their time in a building or vehicle this study is more important than ever! 93% of a day is a little more than 22 ½ hours, which is a shocking amount of time spent inside. When reducing that time to account for the average work day and sleep time, it still amounts for a whopping 6.5 extra hours spent inside on an average day.
This fall I will be entering my last year at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. A lot of my friends from school are from the New York City area, thus, I have been labeled the ‘outdoorsy’ one. I would like to think that I’ve inspired one of my city friends in particular to get outdoors. She was born and raised in the Bronx and hadn’t really experienced nature until moving to Ithaca. Ithaca, NY is in the finger lakes region of New York and has basically every essential nature description you could think of; farms, forests, mountains, lakes, and gorges. In a recent phone call I had with this friend, she expressed how much she has been missing out on nature since her summer back home has started. Her desire or addiction to nature has, on many occasions, has provided a sense of escape from life’s difficulties. “Being from New York City, or the concrete jungle, I always felt defensive when people would joke that I had no idea of what nature was, so I convinced myself that I wouldn’t like the “outdoors” lifestyle since I love home so much. But going to Ithaca College showed me how much the blend of both worlds would be so valuable. Having the comfort to escape to both environments and finding solitude and peace in being in something so natural helped me cope a lot with things happening around me.”
In addition to going to school in New York, I spent about five months studying abroad in Europe with my base in London. I learned some very important life lessons while abroad, one of which is the almost repulsive amount of time Americans devote their lives to working. I had an internship in London, where at least one of my six co-workers was on holiday (vacation) on any given day. I believe that mandated amount of vacation days in the UK is 28 days, which seems like a lot when you’re only used to ten days. While I am grateful to have a job where I get to play and spend a lot of time outdoors, most Americans are not so lucky.
I definitely don’t stand alone when saying that our nation at a whole needs to devote more time to the outdoors. Spending time outdoors has an endless amount of benefits, including enhancing creativity, boosting focus, and improving your overall mental and physical health! At the Door County Adventure Center we provide outdoor recreational activities and experiences that are fun, safe, and affordable. Join us on one of our kayak, SUP, or zipline tours to experience the outdoors in a new, creative way!