How good did it feel when you went for your first swim this summer? Cast that first line? Planted your vegetable garden? Slept with the window open and heard frogs singing? Ate your lunch looking out the window, rather than at your computer screen?
As it turns out, connecting with nature doesn’t just feel like it’s good for you. It is good for you.
A significant and growing body of international research confirms there is a very strong correlation between our health and the amount of contact we have with the natural environment.
Spending even just a bit of time outside – in a forest, by a creek, on a mountain, in a city park – does a world of good for our mental, physical, and social well-being. The more you nurture your relationship with nature, the greater the benefits to your health.
In fact, getting outside is so vital to our health (and the well-being of society as a whole) that major efforts are being worldwide to ensure people have access to nature.
In recognition of the sweeping health benefits nature provides, Ontario Parks is officially prescribing the public with a day of park time.
Ontario has some of the most magnificent geography in Canada. Take advantage of the July 17th celebration and get to a park. Ontario Parks even has a park locator to help you find a park you’ll love.
You can also check out Swim Guide, where you will find information on Ontario Provincial Park’s monitored beaches and swim sites. www.theswimguide.org
Some green time in Ontario’s Provincial Parks is just what the doctor ordered.
Breaking down the barriers to nature
The July 17th celebration at Ontario Parks is part of Healthy Parks, Healthy People, an international movement working to promote the connection between positive human health and spending time with nature.
There is growing concerns about the “nature deficit” in our lives. Canadians just aren’t getting enough contact with nature.
“Canadians now spend ninety percent of each day indoors, obesity rates are skyrocketing, and knowledge of the natural world is slipping away,” says Parks Canada. The lack of green in our lives is having a negative impact on many aspects of our physical and mental well-being.
What’s worse, research also points to the fact that we grossly underestimate how happy being outside will makes us. In other words, even when we do have access to green spaces, we brush off how good a little fresh air will do us.
There is no doubt about it: human health, wellbeing and development depend on access to nature. Moreover, our psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs are very difficult to satisfy without nature.
The research to support these findings comes from many different fields of study, including ecology, biology, medicine, environmental psychology, landscape design, health promotion and psychiatry.
There is no better time to get outside and reconnect with nature than right now.
What’s in it for the environment?
“Parks and other natural environments are a fundamental health resource”
“We now have scientific evidence that suggests that people benefit so much from contact with nature that conservation can now be viewed as a Public Health Strategy.”
Healthy Parks, Healthy People underlines the urgent need for greater conservation of our natural environment. The degradation of the natural environment has further reaching implications on the health of society than we realized.
In order for nature to continue to care for us, we need to do a better job of protecting what sustains us.
As part of the Healthy Parks, Healthy People celebration Lake Ontario Waterkeeper will be at Presqu’ile Provincial Park on July 17th collecting Watermarks from park guests.
Canadians have an irrefutable connection with water. It’s our culture, our heritage, our most important resource, and our greatest responsibility. Water shapes us, just as we shape it. To do harm to our waterways is to do harm to ourselves.
The purpose of the Watermark program is to get Canadians to share the names of their favourite waterways and to spark community interest in water protection. In order to protect and restore swimmable, drinkable, fishable water in Canada we need to remember that water is the lifeblood of our culture. Each Canadian is the keeper of that story.
The Watermarks we collect on July 17th at Presqu’ile Provincial Park will become part of the new Watermark Project’s digital archive and community-building program that identifies, captures, and shares Canadians’ “Watermarks.”
By telling us their waterbody Ontario Parks visitors are ensuring it is registered and will be better protected.