Originally published in the February 13th issue of the Durham Herald-Sun.
On Wednesday, March 9, the public is invited to explore the wild right in their backyards with Triangle Land Conservancy’s second annual Wild Ideas for Getting Outside. This free event runs from 5:30-8pm at The Frontier (800 Park Offices Drive, Durham) and features local adventurers, over 20 outdoor organizations, and free refreshments.
Why focus on getting outside? Look at the smile on a kid’s face while they play in the dirt and you understand how fun it is to be in nature. But, it’s really more than just a good time. Here are five scientific reasons for getting outside.
Enhance creativity and improve concentration. Exposure to nature can improve one’s ability to think creatively in complex situations. Removing technology by going outside restores concentration and activates parts of the brain used in generating creative ideas. According to a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, children with ADHD who play in open spaces have milder symptoms than those who play in structured outdoor areas or indoors. In nature, kids must concentrate to observe the sounds of chirping birds or see the faint tracks of roving animals.
Relieve stress. Forget life’s worries and decrease the risk for depression and other mental illnesses by spending as little as 90 minutes outdoors. Open spaces provide different and potentially more opportunities for boosting both mental and physical health than indoor spaces.
Get fit. Outdoor exercise can be more of a workout and more enjoyable than hitting the gym for adults, but may be even more important for kids. Multiple studies have shown that the strongest indicator of children’s physical fitness is time spent outdoors.
Boost the immune system. Nature has huge, broad effects on health which may all be linked to how our immune systems react positively to the state of relaxation caused by spending time outside. In Japan, the practice of “Shinrin-yoku,” or forest bathing, has even been linked to increased production of anti-cancer proteins in the body.
Create the next generation of conservationists. Many adults have stories of spending time outside when they were young, exploring the forests, creeks, and farms where they grew up. Children now spend half as much time outdoors as they did just 20 years ago, which limits the potential for these foundational experiences. Getting outside reconnects all of us with nature, shaping our attitudes and behaviors toward the environment and conservation.
Even with all the science backing it up, actually getting outside can still be difficult. Limiting factors for individuals and families include time, knowledge, transportation, and money. Wild Ideas for Getting Outside seeks to address some of these issues by providing the community with the resources and inspiration for their next adventure.
Joe Miller, event emcee and Chief Exploration Officer of Getgoingnc.com, will kick off a round of fast-paced, fun-filled presentations at the event. Learn from expert adventurers about birding, camping, nature photography, stand-up paddleboarding, and trail running opportunities in the Triangle.
Then, enjoy free food and beer while meeting representatives from over 20 Triangle-based outdoor organizations and businesses during the Outdoor Expo. They will share their knowledge and tips for getting outside as well as provide sign-up opportunities for upcoming events, many of which are low-cost and require no equipment or previous experience.
Triangle Land Conservancy’s Wild Ideas series is generously sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina with additional support for this event from Murphy’s Naturals as well as Great Outdoor Provision Company and Green Planet Catering.
Please register in advance for this free event by visiting www.triangleland.org/event/wild-ideas-for-getting-outside or for more information call 919-908-0056.