Breaking Down Barriers to Get Outside More
I just listened to a really great episode recently on the Diane Rehm podcast and on it she had a few guests including Richard Louv, author of recent book, “Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life: 500 Ways to Enrich Your Family’s Health & Happiness”, Jonathan Jarvis, Director at the National Parks Service, and Dr. Robert Zarr pediatrician at Unity Health Care in Washington, DC who founded DC Park Rx, a community health initiative to prescribe nature to patients and families. They talked about spending more time outdoors being a movement–not only in the US but in other countries and how accessibility is a main concern in areas that don’t necessarily have green spaces available to them.
This got me thinking (and maybe you too?) of some of the road blocks people may have in my area or further that would prevent them from spending time outdoors. Some of them include not being able to reach a park that is not near them, or maybe you’re a parent that’s overworked and too busy to find time outside–let alone with kids. Being outside in real “green space”, which in this episode explained could be public lands or local, nearby parks, is becoming more and more of a challenge.
Without listing a bunch of resources, just go to Transit and Trails for an extensive list to get to your nearest trail or park. What I love about this list is how many and how EASY it is to get to where you want, without doing too much research. There’s even apps you can download to help you map out your routes by place or region. Having your trails and parks accessible to you no matter where you live is the first step to getting outside more.
The other concern that was brought up in the episode, was lifestyle. If you’re a parent and your go-to phrase is “I’m too busy to get outside,” then I totally get that. I too, have found some days challenging when I have 4 kids in tow–but incorporating going outside daily can help you get away from using that phrase as an excuse as time goes on. It’s easier to tell yourself that you’re too tired or too busy to go outside than actually going outside. Here are some options for busy parents that can may help ease you into more outdoorsy activities in your future and don’t necessarily involve a lot of fuss.
- Start planning a garden or indoor living space
- Try some sensory activities on your back porch
- Go for an urban fruit adventure
- Go to the beach
- Visit a local dog park if you have furry family members
- When you meet up with friends for a GNO or play date, join a small hike or park time
- Participate in a volunteer group doing some work outdoors
- Pack a lunch and eat outside even if it’s on your lawn
- Design a treasure hunt for your kids to do in your neighborhood
- Grab a pair of binoculars and do some birdwatching from your front porch
If you are still stumped about how you can get outside more, check out my post a couple of months ago and don’t stress if you can’t get out this time. Being outdoors is not a chore or burden but something you can enjoy and if you’re not outdoorsy–a challenge for you and your kids to explore and learn new things about yourself.
Be sure to check out the Diane Rehm show and more specifically, give the podcast episode a listen, here. National Parks Week is right around the corner (April 16-24) and I’ll be dropping some major resources for you soon on the National Parks Centennial celebrations and where to go for fee-free days in your local National Park. Until then, happy adventuring!