Outdoors for Everyone Project
BENEFITS

Pictured is The Roosevelt Arch, located at the North entrance and constructed in 1903 to be the impressive gateway to Yellowstone National Park. It is inscribed with a phrase from the legislation that established Yellowstone as history’s first National Park, “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.” Unfortunately there are those that are still unable to experience these “Benefits." It is the Mission of the Outdoors for Everyone Project to alleviate this situation.

The Outdoors for Everyone Project brings benefits of the outdoors to those lacking the ability or opportunity to experience it for themselves.
The Outdoors for Everyone Project brings benefits of the outdoors to those lacking the ability or opportunity to experience it for themselves.

 

by David Mills, Founder

It’s easy for me, simply from personal experience, to say that there are great benefits to being exposed to nature. John Muir, known as the Father of the National Parks System, had a sense of the effects of the outdoors when he wrote, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings” long before the research of today verified the positive aspects of a “nature immersion.” While it has always seemed obvious to me that time spent in the outdoors has a positive impact, what I didn’t realize until investigating the topic was the vast amount of research validating the importance of exposure to the natural world.

 

Of particular importance to the Outdoors for Everyone Project, is that not only are there benefits to being physically outdoors, but there are important benefits that can be derived from exposure to indoor environments enhanced through nature-based design. In other words, research shows that benefits can be derived from simply viewing photos of the outdoors even though an individual may find themselves in a hospital, senior home, or classroom. Since this is the thrust of the Outdoors for Everyone Project, “bringing the outdoors to those that can’t for one reason or another experience it for themselves,” it’s rewarding to know that the science backs the idea.

 

The research comes from a wide array of sources: academic, scientific, and governmental. Titles can range from the straightforward “The Health Benefits Of The Great Outdoors” to the more technical sounding “Functional Neuroanatomy Associated with Natural and Urban Scenic views in the Human Brain: 3.OT Functional MR Imaging.” Here’s an excerpt from the aforementioned study “. . . the idea that the differential functional neuroanatomies for each scenic view are presumably related with subject’s emotional responses to the natural and urban environment, and thus the differential functional neuroanatomy can be utilized as a neural index for the . . .“ To put it a bit simpler, the conclusion of this study is really nothing more than . . . nature tends to make us feel better.

 

To reiterate, this growing body of research correlates more time in nature – or in home, work, school, or hospital environments enhanced through nature-based design AND the simple act of viewing photos of nature, with a vast and impressive number of benefits. Fortunately, and thanks to the Outdoors for Everyone Project, the benefits are available to everyone, not just those able to, as John Muir puts it “climb a mountain.”

 

It is not my intent to offer an exhaustive treatise on this subject, but rather to offer a few basics and to encourage the reader to investigate further. In light of ever changing locations (links) to any particular item on the internet, and since we are not interested in maintaining these correct locations (links) on this website, only a few references (links) are cited. A simple Google search of “The Benefits Of The Outdoors” will reveal much of the information referenced here. In the end, the main impression the reader will come away with is the importance of the Outdoors for Everyone Project in enriching the lives of its audience.

 

Benefits From Exposure To The Natural World.

 

  • Reduction of stress, tension, and depression; acts as an antidepressant.

 

  • Reduces healing and recovery times from illness and even surgery; one study indicates quicker recovery after surgery in patients with a window view of nature as opposed to buildings.

 

  • Helps alleviate the symptoms of ADHD.

 

  • Studies have shown that children with ADHD scored higher on concentration tests after exposure to the natural world.

 

  • Studies reveal nature’s ability to encourage our brains to take it easy, thus improving memory, attention span, and cognition.

 

  • Increases concentration skills in general.

 

  • Increases creativity.

 

  • Tends to make children nicer; enhancing social interaction, value for community, and close relationships.

 

  • Produces better self-esteem.

 

  • Increases activity in the brain responsible for empathy and emotional stability.

 

  • Lowers heart rate.

 

  • Studies have been conducted connecting closeness to nature with avoidance of cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological diseases.

 

  • Reduces the need for medications.

 

  • Improves quality of life.

 

Additional Findings.

 

  • One study indicated that kids would rather do chores than play outside. This lifestyle away from outdoor interaction is a “major contributor to the decline of children’s health.”

 

  • New emerging disciplines are revealing the mental, physical, emotional, and social benefits of exposure to the natural world. There are several branches of science that have emerged related to the topic of “Green Therapy,” also known as Ecotherpy.

 

  • Richard Louv in his book Last Child In The Woods uses the term “nature deficit disorder” to describe behavioral problems that potentially stem from less time exposed to the outdoors.

 

  • People who were shown pictures of scenic, natural landscapes had heightened activity in areas of the brain associated with the recall of happy memories compared to those shown urban landscapes.

 

  • The average American child spends as few as 30 minutes in unstructured outdoor play, and more than seven hours each day in front of an electronic screen.

 

  • The U.S. has become the largest consumer of ADHD medications in the world. Pediatric prescriptions for antidepressants have risen precipitously.

 

  • Schools with environmental education programs score higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing, and listening and exposure to environmental-based education significantly increases student performance on tests of their critical thinking skills.

 

  • Recently much research has focused on the so called “nature connection,” and how it affects our health, outlook, and overall quality of life.

 

Final Thoughts

 

As mentioned prior, and of particular importance to the Outdoors for Everyone Project, studies such as can be found in the Neuropsychologia Journal point to the positive benefits of simply looking at photos of nature. It’s probably accurate to say that most of us take the benefits of exposure to the outdoors derived from the most basic act of looking at photos, for granted. But for those denied exposure to the natural world for whatever reason, what we take for granted can be the tonic for a myriad of issues, from just feeling down to recovering from surgery. In many ways the outdoors is the magic elixir for a better life. And while much is beginning to be done to encourage those who are already able to get outdoors to do so and reap its benefits, let us not forget those that can’t, for one reason or another, experience the therapeutic, inspirational, and educational benefits of the outdoors for themselves.

 

Research Conducted By The Following Entities.

 

  • University of Michigan
  • Endocrine Research Unit, Mayo Clinic
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
  • University of Kansas
  • Baker Research Institute, Melbourne Australia
  • Glasgow University
  • Nippon Medical School, Tokyo
  • Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg Sweden
  • Evergreen State College, Olympia Washington
  • University of Exeter, Exeter England
  • University of Utah

 

And many more . . . encompassing a vast number of scientists, researchers, educators, doctors, and health care professionals from physiological anthropologists to neurologists.

 

Study Results Found In The Following Publications / Locations.

 

  • Journal of Environmental Psychology
  • American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
  • Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
  • Journal of Experimental Psychology
  • Journal of Aging and Health
  • Environment and Behavior
  • American Journal of Public Health
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Environmental Science and Technology
  • Journal of Physiological Anthropology
  • Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
  • The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine
  • Biopsychosocial Medicine
  • Social Science & Medicine: Conclusion - “The natural world has long been associated with health and described as a therapeutic landscape, and a growing body of research demonstrates the benefits of interacting with nature for mental and physical health.”

 

Many articles can be located in the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, www.nlm.nih.gov and various peer-reviewed academic journals on health, well-being, and adult and childhood development.

 

 

 

The Benefits Of The Outdoors For Everyone Project

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The Outdoors for Everyone Project is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

For general information contact - info@o4e.org

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          2018 Outdoors for Everyone Project