How to Get Outside more Often, and Why it’s Important

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Getting Outside for Healthy Living, Purposeful Growth, and Creative Productivity

A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to hear a talk from Cheryl Charles, CEO of the child and nature network. She spoke about the importance of getting children outside. Cheryl’s co-founder of the Children and Nature Network, Richard Louv, states in his book Last Child in the Woods that children who are outside tend to behave better, be in better physical health, and exhibit more mental resiliency than their peers who spend more time indoors. I think this is true for adults as well.

Did your childhood consist of outdoor experiences? I have great memories of my parents us to local parks. My siblings and I would hunt for the prettiest rocks along the trail, search for creatures in the woods, and sing songs. It was something that my parents could do for us that was budget-friendly, appropriate for our age, healthy, and gave us the opportunity to build family relationships.

Doesn’t it simply feel good to have natural colors, sounds, and smells around? Getting outside contributes to healthy living, creative productivity, and purposeful growth. It gives you physical activity, time to reflect, and sometimes, you an learn something new.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” –Henry David Thoreau Click here to Tweet this!

Accessing local parks is a free activity for everyone, regardless of age, income, or fitness level. And if you are trying to save money, it is a great avenue for free entertainment. Some parks are built for paved walking, running, and cycling. In Dallas, my spouse and I love to run along the Katy Trail; in Boston, we enjoy the Harbor Walk. Other parks feature concerts or special events. Even more parks simply allow you to get the kids on a playground. And, some parks let you immerse yourself in nature—like Dinosaur Valley State Park in North Texas or the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. History buff? Many parks feature historical sites.

Interested in getting outside more often? Here is a list of resources that might help you discover special places near you.

Discover the Forest
Check out this interactive map. You can type in your location, how far you’d like to travel, and also choose the activity in which you are most interested.

America’s State Parks
Visit your State Park Department website. Each state calls their parks department something different. I recommend starting with America’s State Parks Foundation to get started.

National Park Service and National Park Foundation
Use these sites to look for a national park or national forest for a day trip or a weekend. It’s a great site to learn about campgrounds and more detailed information about a particular park.

Looking for a playground? This site lists many options.

National Heritage Map or National Heritage Itinerary
This map shows you if are lucky enough to live near a national heritage area. According to the National Park Service, a National Heritage Area is “designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape.”

Where is your favorite park? Let us know by commenting below!

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
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  • Terri Westfall

    Thanks for the topic Caitlin! A great park here in Little Rock is Two Rivers- a park that is home to numerous birds, deer, turtles, frogs, and snakes to name a few. Two Rivers park is part of the Arkansas River Trail here in central Arkansas, a terrific place to refresh and get outside!