The famous author, Edward Abbey, once wrote, "Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit." It's true that humankind has a unique connection with the great outdoors, one that inspires innovation and exploration, refreshes our minds, and draws us back to our roots. But as a people who spend 90% of their lives indoors, modern Americans run the risk of missing out on all that the great outdoors has to offer.
This June, I challenge you to help change that. During Great Outdoors Month, whether you're a nature-lover or an indoor enthusiast, let's make an effort to get outside, breathe in the open air, and reconnect with the outdoors.
Why Explore the Great Outdoors?
Perhaps the question should be — why not explore the great outdoors? Aside from experiencing the beauty and adventure that is Mother Nature, spending time outdoors offers some pretty compelling benefits.
Mental health benefits — People who spend more time outdoors, in green spaces particularly, experience less stress, lower levels of depression, and elevated moods. Being outside also enhances brain function, improves concentration, and spurs creativity.
Physical health benefits — Most outdoor recreation involves some form of physical activity, which aids in weight loss, promotes a healthy heart, boosts your energy, and so much more. Getting outdoors also exposes to you Vitamin D, which is powerful in fighting against things like heart attacks, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis, and depression.
Economic benefits — Outdoor recreation puts people to work, providing more than 6 million jobs a year, according to America's Great Outdoors 2011 Progress Report. In addition, the industry contributes an estimated $730 billion to the U.S. economy, making it a vital source of sustainability for small and large communities across the country.
Outdoor Adventure Ideas
The opportunities for outdoor adventure are essentially limitless. Below are a few ways you can get outside this summer.
Take a hike. Literally. Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails with your family or a group of friends. Observe wildlife, soak in the scenery, and enjoy some time away from the concrete jungle. If hiking by yourself, be sure to stay on trails where plenty of people are present. Don't forget to pack the right gear and brush up on safety tips before you head out. Visit the American Hiking Society for more information.
Pitch a tent. Kick back under the starry skies this summer by taking a camping trip. Bring your tent, plenty of marshmallows, and stories for sharing around the campfire. With numerous camping sites available across the country, chances are, you won't have to go far to find a spot near you. If you're new to camping, just pitch a tent in your backyard, which makes for an easy, family-friendly way to get outside. For camping tips and destination ideas, head to ReserveAmerica.com or GoCampingAmerica.com.
Ride a bike. Looking for a faster paced activity? Try cycling. If you want more of a wilderness experience, mountain biking is the way to go. Mountain bikes are built for more rugged terrain and are meant to be ridden off-road. If rocky trails aren't your thing, another option is road biking. Like the name suggests, road bikes are meant to be ridden on the road, so you have to be aware of traffic. Check out NHTSA.gov for on-road bicycle safety tips.
Catch a fish. Fishing is a versatile activity that offers fun for beginners and expert-anglers alike. Take up fly fishing in Montana, explore saltwater fishing on the deep blue sea, or bring some bait and tackle to your nearby pond or lake. Before you fish, be sure to check out local fishing guidelines and obtain a proper license. For more fishing ideas and resources, visit TakeMeFishing.org.
Paddle a boat. Take to the water for an outdoor adventure that's both fun and challenging. Rent a canoe for a group or family outing, or get up close and personal with the water in a kayak. Learn about safe paddling practices from the American Canoe Association before getting your feet wet.
Ready to explore the great outdoors but not sure where to go? Head to FindYourPark.com to check out one of the country's 59 National Parks, or visit StateParks.org to find a state park near you.
Now, let's get outside!