ANS Issues Another Challenge for D.C. to Spend at Least an Hour a Day in Nature and the WIlderness
CHEVY CHASE, MD – Tomorrow, June 1 marks the start of Great Outdoors Month. To celebrate, the Audubon Naturalist Society is challenging the DC area to get up and go outside – for the fun of it just as we did for Earth Month! Researchers say Americans live the majority of their lives indoors, despite the well-documented benefits of being in nature and the wilderness. ANS wants to buck this “indoor species” trend by showcasing dozens of the region’s most beloved outdoor spaces and challenging the DMV to spend more time – at least an hour a day – in nature for pleasure.
Fueled by the slogan, “Wild Places Are Closer than You Think. Follow Me!” the goal of the ongoing challenge is to get people to visit outdoor spaces in the DMV, such as Rock Creek Park, Great Falls, the National Arboretum, Dumbarton Oaks, ANS’s Woodend and Rust nature sanctuaries, and the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, where Harriet Tubman grew up. (Download the ANS Great Outdoors Month LocationsPDF). ANS experts are available throughout the month to speak with media about how to #EscapeTheIndoors.
Because scientific studies say the great outdoors is good for the mind, body, spirit, and creativity, ANS is hopeful that spending at least 60 minutes connecting with nature will become habit-forming, for adults, as well as children, who, one leading researcher says are outdoors fewer than seven minutes a day, on average. This problem is gaining more attention. Just this week, the Washington Post published “Kids do not spend nearly enough time outside. Here’s how (and why) to change that,” authored by the head of the National Wildlife Federation, which has a “green hour” challenge aimed at kids.
As to the benefits of being outside, here are some universal facts to consider:
- Exposure to trees, the sky and birdsong is beneficial for mental wellbeing of city dwellers.
- Memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent after people spent an hour interacting with nature.
- More than half of adults spend 5 hours or less a week outdoors.
- Time spent outdoors can relieve chronic conditions so more doctors and health care providers are actually prescribing nature through a national initiative called Parks Rx.
- Increasing time spent outdoors may reduce the risk of developing nearsightedness in children.
About ANS: Throughout its history, ANS has played a pivotal role in conserving our region’s iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS’s nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.