Keep it Simple in the New Year: Resolve to Get Outside!


Muir Woods hiker

The new year is upon us, providing a fresh start and a clean slate to achieve hopes and goals within a year’s time. Whether it’s exercising more, pledging to meditate once a day, or eating healthier, most of us tend to bite off more than we can chew—or accomplish—with our new year’s resolutions.

That’s why we suggest keeping it simple in the new year: Just get outside more.

All you need to make a profound difference in your well-being is to go on a walk down a tree-filled street, visit a neighborhood parklet, or spend some time in your nearby Golden Gate National Parks.

And plenty of recent studies reinforce this notion that nature is intrinsically good for us:

  1. Time spent exercising outside has been reported to not only reduce stress and improve attention—but also positively impact mental restoration and help both kids and adults cope with attention deficits (ADHD), anxiety, and depression. In fact, according to the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), exposure to nature can reduce stress levels up to 28% in children. NEEF also reports that a 20-minute walk can help youth with ADHD concentrate better.
  2. Exercising and spending more time in nature has led to better overall self-reported health, increased longevity, and lowering incidences of chronic disease stemming from inactivity. (Source: Green Exercise)
  3. Outdoor exposure has also been associated with an increased intake of vitamin D. Regular doses of outdoor time have been found to help children remain alert throughout the day, maintain elevated moods, and fall asleep easier in the evening. (Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information)
  4. Simply gazing at nature (a tree out your window, or a photo of a beautiful vista) has been linked to an increase in productivity. (Source: Harvard Business Review)

Parks and nature certainly comprise places and destinations, but they are also states of mind. Even the shortest trip into nature can leave you with lessons you might carry for the rest of your life.

And we offer a menu of resources to help everyone, from communities across the Bay Area, gain access to the nearby outdoors.

You can join a Healthy Parks, Healthy People hike on the first Saturday of every month, or access the Presidio, Lands End, or Mori Point through the Bayview Hunters Point/National Park Service Community Shuttle. We just want to help you and your loved ones reap the benefits of a trip into nature.

And whether you’re the outdoorsy person in your family or friend group (or not), encourage your loved ones to get outside more with you, even if you have to beg ’em. In the end, you’ll be doing yourself and them a favor.

Start the year right by exploring our guide to the dozens of amazing sites in the Golden Gate National Parks.

Ryan Curran White is the Content Marketing Manager for the Parks Conservancy.

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