What’s So Great About The Great Outdoors? – Mat Duerden, PHD

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“Spending time outdoors has been linked to a variety of positive outcomes, from improved mental functioning and increased levels of physical activity, to decreased levels of ADHD symptoms and stress among children.”

When it comes to outdoor recreation, Utah is among the top in the nation. You can engage in almost any type of outdoor activity possible, from mountain biking and canyoneering, to bird watching and geo caching. With multiple national forests, monuments, and parks within only a couple of hours drive, we have limited excuses not to get outside throughout the year. The variety of outdoor space and activities means ample recreation opportunities for novices, experts, and everyone in between.

Unfortunately, actually taking the time to get outside is often an exception rather than the norm. Research suggests many of us, especially adolescents and children, are spending less time outside than previous generations. The reasons for this decline are multifaceted and include things like the draw of digital media in its many forms, lack of knowledge of where to go and what to do, living over-scheduled lives, fear of strangers, and even the comfort of air-conditioning.

While it may be easier to plop down on the couch and stream the latest episode of whatever we are currently binge watching than it is to drive to a local canyon for a quick hike, or even spend a couple of minutes walking through a local park, the benefits of spending even a small amount of time outside far outweigh the momentary satisfaction of watching even the funniest YouTube #fail videos.

A diverse array of research studies over the last 20 years paint a convincing picture of the benefits gained from getting outside. Spending time outdoors has been linked to…(read more)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

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