Summer always seems to fly by, and this year is no exception. July 4th is already behind us! Because many of us are experiencing “COVID fatigue” after months of staying home and not doing much, this summer it’s especially important to take advantage of time outdoors. Exercise and time in nature benefits our physical and mental health, and opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature are abundant in the Centre Region.
Mount Nittany Health is again proud to partner with ClearWater Conservancy in the Centred Outdoors program to benefit the health and wellness of our community. Through Centred Outdoors, anyone—regardless of weight and physical fitness levels—can engage in the natural world through guided outings at various Centre County destinations. Whether you prefer a guided adventure or exploring on your own at your own pace, Centred Outdoors offers a variety of activities that promote overall wellness as well as conservation. As you enjoy our community’s natural areas and resources, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about them.
Because Centred Outdoors is committed to the health and wellness of everyone in our community, the 2021 program is a hybrid model that combines virtual programming with in-person events and opportunities to get outdoors while following COVID safety recommendations.
As part of Centred Outdoors, Mount Nittany Health is once again offering the Prescription PARX program. Through PARX, Mount Nittany Health medical professionals are writing prescriptions for patients to spend time being physically active in nature. If you need motivation to fill your prescription, consider this: Research has shown that spending time outside is just plain good for you.
Being active outdoors is an important component to physical wellness. It can help you shed a few extra pounds, strengthen your heart, reduce blood pressure and heart rate, relieve muscle tension, reduce blood sugar levels, and decrease the production of stress hormones. Time spent outdoors can also help ward off depression and reduce anger, fear, anxiety, and stress.
Not only does time spent in nature benefit our physical and mental health, it can also make us feel more connected to each other and the larger world. In studies that measure brain activity, when participants viewed nature scenes, the parts of the brain associated with empathy and love lit up. But when participants viewed urban scenes, the parts of the brain associated with fear and anxiety were activated. These findings seem to indicate that nature inspires feelings that connect us to each other and our environment. Those connections add value to our lives, particularly after a pandemic year.
Reap the benefits of physical activity and nature by participating in Centre Outdoors 2021. Upcoming outings include Dry Hollow (Scotia West), Alan Seeger Natural Area, and The Arboretum at Penn State. For more information, visit CentredOutdoors.org.