Science has backcountry’s back

What we back country trekkers and horse owners know intuitively is being quantified more and more by science:

Time outside and time with animals are key factors in a crafting a vibrant life.

A recent article by Florence Williams in the Wall Street Journal highlights not only the research supporting these truths, but our tendency to ignore them.

Williams writes of a phone app called “Mappiness” with which 20,000 volunteers signaled where they were and how they felt about it. Results showed most were significantly happier outside.

Williams, a contributor to Outside Magazine, the New York Times, and author of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, said we can be guilty of “forecasting errors.” We underestimate how good we’ll feel when we actually do get outside.

The misstep creates an unfortunate cycle: we don’t appreciate the benefits, so we spend even less time outside.

As many of us rural inhabitants and horse owners know, even when necessity supersedes our actual desire (as many New Englanders can attest during this week’s giant storms), we really DO feel better when we’re out in the elements.

Again, Williams brings science to the fore, supporting her work with research that shows better short term memory and attention performance when we get doses of nature.

You know about the food pyramid? Now, consider the nature pyramid, with lengthy, back country and international exploration at the top and reading for 15 minutes under a tree in a city park towards the bottom. It’s a healthy living concept propagated by researchers Tim Beatley and Tanya Denckla Cobb. As Williams explains, any outdoor foray – even the lunch break snippets – are beneficial to your health and well-being.

Happy Trails!

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