Today’s blog comes from Sarah Higginson, Market Development Specialist at Ontario Parks.
August is over and so is the 30×30 Healthy Parks Healthy People Challenge.
This was the first year I took on the challenge (not counting the year I did it for two days and then got distracted) and it was a magical month-long adventure filled with scenery, sunshine, and even some self-awareness.
I have to say I started the challenge feeling pretty satisfied.
I already try to get outdoors a lot: walks, bike rides, and endless work in my garden. So, I was curious to see what additional benefits I would feel by committing to spending 30 minutes in nature for 30 days.
August arrived and I spent a few days exploring the area around Lake St. Peter Provincial Park. One day I paddled a canoe and the next day I paddled a kayak. There was lots of swimming, quiet walks in the woods and coffee on misty mornings.
Variety is the spice of life
The challenge is not just about pristine nature: urban nature counts too!
Had some great hikes on trails near a local river. I wasn’t always active: I had lazy days where I would relax or read in my yard, listening to the noisy blue jays and woodpeckers that prowl my neighborhood.
I wasn’t always completely successful. Does the day I spent 30 minutes on my porch hiding from a pouring rain count as time in nature? Maybe not.
In the middle of the month I was lucky enough to go on a camping adventure and that’s when I started to really feel the benefits of time spent outdoors.
I love nature!
I noticed something very interesting after sleeping under the stars (well, in a tent under the stars) for a few nights.
My average resting heart rate dropped more than 10 beats per minute after a few days outdoors.
Is this purely anecdotal? Yeah.
Are all the scientists I know rolling their eyes? Guaranteed.
But did it make me think about the power nature has to make us feel better? Absolutely.
The reliability of my fitness tracker aside, I also felt great: I slept better, my food tasted better, I was more patient with my kids and my dogs, and I even accepted that spiders were my new roommates and that everything What he had was covered in a scandalous cloth. amount of sand (and pine gum, a great combination!).
Fact: nature is amazing!
Although I already felt like I was spending a lot of time outdoors, when I stopped and paid attention to how nature made me feel, I was surprised to notice the different ways nature made me feel great.
But you don’t have to take my word for it!
Recent scientific studies have shown that:
- The smell of fresh pine can reduce depression and anxiety.
- Interacting with natural spaces for 20 to 30 minutes, three days a week, can reduce blood pressure and stress.
- Seeing natural landscapes can improve our mood.
- Getting outside can revitalize our bodies and awaken our minds.
With all that evidence, it’s no wonder time spent outdoors made me feel so good.
Experience nature 365 days a year.
I think it’s official: I’m addicted to nature!
As August came to a close, I was already planning how to continue getting my daily dose of nature in the fall and winter.
My ideas include evening nature walks, working with my kids to observe and record the changing seasons as we move from summer to fall, and hopefully doing a few more dives in some of our amazing Ontario lakes if the weather allows it.
We are all longing for nature, this year more than ever, and I can’t wait to continue enjoying it all year long!
We loved seeing all the posts on social media showing how people were tackling (and rocking) the 30×30 Challenge!
Let’s continue using the hashtags #HPHP and #30x30Challenge. We’d love to hear what you noticed during the challenge.
What was your favorite outdoor experience this August? And most importantly, how are you going to maintain your new habit throughout the year?