Why are Parks and Trails so important?
If you’re a Colorado native, it’s likely that you take our expansive open spaces, trails, and parks for granted. As a native southerner, the promise of fresh air and views for miles is a large part of why we moved here. To take a nice hike or summit anything over sea level, you had to drive to the destination. Here in Castle Rock, it’s so convenient to be able to hop on a greenway or trail and get to an open space on foot or bike!
Why is this such a big draw for people? Why do we love the outdoors (and if we don’t, why should we?) Maybe you’ve recently read about people being “prescribed” outdoor activity by their doctor in place of medicine. What’s the big deal about being outside?
WHY GET OUTSIDE?
(author’s note: I took my laptop outside to write this paragraph after researching the data for it)
Let’s start with the detriments of being stuck inside sitting at a desk. Sitting is literally harmful to our bodies. The following health concerns are linked to consistent long periods of sitting: increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and boredom. One article even calls sitting “the new smoking”.(1)
Sure, a standing desk can alleviate some of those risks, but we are still inside! The benefits of getting natural Vitamin D from the sun are numerous. Did you know the UVB rays from the sun use the cholesterol in our skin to create Vitamin D? Vitamin D is what supports absorption of calcium and phosphorus. The same sunshine vitamin reduces risk of bone and muscle weakness disorders and some cancers. It suppresses inflammation and age-related high blood pressure. There are positive clinical correlations for the following issues: type 2 diabetes, cognitive impairment, depression, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, autoimmune diseases, and fractures/falls.(2)
Aside from Vitamin D, being outside can improve your vision, concentration, creativity, mental clarity, and energy(3) as well as lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels.(4) Being Coloradans, we can access the outdoors most of the time, but it’s still good to remember that there’s no poor weather, only poor clothing choices. All that aside, for most people, being stuck inside is directly linked to boredom. There are health impacts of boredom too! Boredom has been linked to increased drug/alcohol use, apathy, depression, and cognitive disturbances. One study even found that bored people are more likely to behave sadistically towards others.(5)
PARKS AND TRAILS ARE THE ANSWER
Fortunately, avoiding boredom and sitting is as easy as hopping outside to one of Castle Rock's amazing 54 parks, 16 open spaces, or seemingly infinite trails! Fill a backpack full of snacks, water, and rain gear for a long day on the trail. Or just pop around the corner from your office and spend a few minutes on the swings at a nearby playground. Or take your lunch to the grassy area at a park. The opportunities are endless. Connect with us on our socials for inspiration! We look forward to seeing you out there!
1 The dangers of sitting: Why sitting is the new smoking. The dangers of sitting: why sitting is the new smoking - Better Health Channel. (n.d.). Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/the-dangers-of-sitting?viewAsPdf=true
2 Nair R, Maseeh A. Vitamin D: The "sunshine" vitamin. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012 Apr;3(2):118-26. doi: 10.4103/0976-500X.95506. PMID: 22629085; PMCID: PMC3356951
3 Admin, & Hospital, W. P. (2021, August 13). Benefits of spending time outdoors in nature - white plains hospital. WP Hospital. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://healthmatters.wphospital.org/blog/january/2021/my-doctor-told-me-to-get-outside/
4 Echouffo-Tcheugui, J. B., Conner, S. C., Himali, J. J., Maillard, P., DeCarli, C. S., Beiser, A. S., Vasan, R. S., & Seshadri, S. (2018, November 20). Circulating cortisol and cognitive and structural brain measures. Neurology. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://n.neurology.org/content/91/21/e1961
5 Kim, M. (2021, July 17). Boredom's link to mental illnesses, brain injuries and dysfunctional behaviors. The Washington Post. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/boredom-mental-health-disconnected/2021/07/16/c367cd30-9d6a-11eb-9d05-ae06f4529ece_story.html