Posted by William on September 14, 2011
“Of course the trails provide such opportunities not only for physical exercise of the body but also for the human spirit, especially the scenic views provided to users of trails,” added Tice. “We have found that such activities are great for reducing hypertension, high blood pressure, stress — all of which can be debilitating to one’s good health.”
Native Americans have known the health benefits of nature for a long, long time. During his talk titled “Pathways to Nature Kinship,” author/actor James Swan offered numerous examples of how outdoor pilgrimages provided healing to respiratory problems (like asthma and lungs burnt by mustard gas during the war) as well as healing psychological problems. Swan suggested reading more about it and working with native people to protect sacred places. He recommended the books “New Choices in Natural Healing,” by Bill Gottlieb, and “The Sacred and the Profane,” by Mircea Eliade, in addition to his own books, “The Power of Place,” “Bound to the Earth” and “Sacred Places.”
Tice explained how military findings suggested recreation improves mental well being, self-esteem and self-worth while increasing the will to survive and concern for others among the soldiers studied.
Local Programs Fill the Need
In Redding, California, a survey of Baby-Boomers asked, “What would you like to see to encourage you to be more active?” Not one mentioned more health clubs, but all mentioned, “More trails on the Sacramento River.” The City of Redding met that request and the positive effects continue to surmount.
Among the national programs currently established to encourage physical activity and hiking-trail use, Seeley mentioned:
The Department of Health and Human Services Campaign “Healthy People 2010″ to promote and support trail building, maintenance and public education.
The National Heart Association’s campaign “Physical Activity – It’s everywhere you go,” which brings together insurance companies and other companies to help distribute the information to the public.
The Surgeon General’s goal to “get more people, more active, more often,” which asks people to spend 30 minutes a day (in 10-minute increments), five days a week doing some type of physical activity at a moderate pace.