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You Belong Outside – Health Benefits of the Great Outdoors

July 22, 2014
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How much time do you spend outside each week?

Now that summer is here, we ought to be spending many hours outdoors. Unfortunately, too many of us hang our heads in shame at this question. We know we should be enjoying outdoor activities more often. After all, summer only lasts so long. Yet, it is challenging to get outside.

Thanks to technology, it seems easy to “access” life from the comfort of our computers and mobile devices. Many people agree that they do not spend as much time outside as they did in their youth. However, beyond the modern conveniences that keep us comfortably indoors, people with disabilities face additional obstacles when heading into nature.

To put it plainly, disability seems to keep people indoors. Mobility challenges, life altering depression, illnesses and other conditions pose obstacles to getting outside and enjoying nature. However, it is important that these challenges don’t prohibit you from getting out and about entirely.

Benefits and Challenges of Being Outside

Being outside is good for your overall health. According to the US Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health, fresh air and vitamin D (from the sun) can have a positive impact on physical health and mood. This may mean that a lack of time outside may perpetuate poor health.

If you want to be as healthy as possible, it is very important that you get fresh air and sunshine often. Unfortunately, beyond the obstacles people with disabilities face when they try to get outside, there seems to be little for them to do once they venture out into the world. For instance, a person with mobility impairment may overcome many obstacles to get to the park, but once he has reached the outdoor destination, he will likely have trouble getting around the park.

Everyone Belongs Outside

Alberta Parks recognizes this problem. In early July, they rolled out a campaign called, “Everyone Belongs Outside.” Their mission is to make nature accessible to people with different mobility levels. They are accomplishing this with a new all-terrain wheelchair (among other things) called the “Park Explorer.”

The Western Wheel reports on the inner workings of this new piece of equipment.

The wheelchair has a three-wheeled design, with handlebars, brakes and suspension that allows the user to maneuver side to side without tipping over.

Nature-lover and wheelchair user of 20 years, Christian Bagg, designed the chair for himself. In teaming up with Alberta Parks, he and his Park Explorer are making nature accessible to Canadians with mobility impairments.

Christian Bagg had to overcome large obstacles before he could get out of his home and enjoy the great outdoors. Now, he is not only out and about, he is helping other people access the tools they need to partake in outdoor activities too.

Spending Time Outside

Being outside benefits our minds and bodies. When getting outside feels like a struggle, remember that immediate pains and pangs are small compared to the many health-related benefits.

This summer, try to spend time outside every day.  As you do this, reflect on the changes you notice in your physical health and mood. If you see positive improvements, we want to hear from you. Leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

What are some outdoor activities you enjoy? Who do you like to go outside with? How long has it been since you made it a priority to spend time in fresh air and sunshine? We are interested to learn about how you spend your time outside. Share with us by replying below.

The National Benefit Authority always strives to promote people with disabilities. If you dislike this article or find it to be inaccurate, please share why in the comment section of this post.

 

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