We are in that week where we are finalizing our New Year’s Resolutions, making our plans, deciding on gym memberships, setting up a diet, and deciding how to improve our lives. However good or bad this past year has been for us, we want to improve our physical, mental, and financial status, this time of year tends to be about new beginnings. Whatever your main goal, Arkansas Outside would like to suggest that a part of your new year is dedicated to spending more time outside. More time spent outside is a strong partner to most resolutions. Luckily, Arkansas has all you need to help you achieve your New Year’s Resolutions.
Time outside is time spent breathing fresh air and getting exercise. A short walk on a paved trail is way better than sitting and watching television or staring at our phones. As you spend more time outside throughout the year, it’s easy to increase your level of commitment. Walk farther, start running, spend time on a bike, take up paddling or rock climbing or maybe just enjoy the surroundings. Studies show that an hour spent outside increases physical activity by seven minutes, taking 762 more steps and spending 13 fewer minutes being sedentary. You don’t even need to leave your yard, start some work on your garden or yard. Maybe a walk around the block or to visit a friend instead of getting in the car.
Other studies show a decrease in levels of the stress hormone cortisol when more time is spent outside. People feel less stressed and more relaxed by spending more time outside.
From Harvard Health, “Spending just 20 minutes connecting with nature can help lower stress hormone levels, according to a study in the April 4, 2019, Frontiers in Psychology.”
The outdoors are great for your heart. Heart.org says, “Spending time in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and well-being. Whatever you call it – forest bathing, ecotherapy, mindfulness in nature, green time, or the wilderness cure — humans evolved in the great outdoors, and your brain benefits from a journey back to nature.”
While gym memberships are great, when used, they can easily and cheaply be augmented with time outdoors. In Arkansas, unlike most other states, our state parks have free admission. That’s hundreds of miles of trails, shoreline, and other outdoor amenities available to Arkansans across the state. On top of that, we have The Buffalo National River, both the Ozark-St. Francis and Ouachita National Forests have nominal fees and some of the longest trails in this part of the country available. Our cities have large green space areas and parks. After all, this is The Natural State.
Let’s Get Started
There are so many things to do it’s hard to post them all here. We recommend you go to our calendar of events. You can use this tool throughout the year to chart your outdoor experience. Below are a few of the opportunities coming up this week through January 1. We spoke of many of these options last Friday on Good Morning Arkansas. You can watch for our next appearance in January for more ideas for playing outside.
Finish the year strong with one of the runs on December 31. Find out about Prediction and Last Chance runs in Mountain Home and Little Rock, respectfully. Or maybe a Resolution Run in Paragould. Of course, if there isn’t an event convenient to you, find your own place to make a quick final run of the year.
New Year’s Day has some great options. The Woolly Bully Mountain Bike Challenge at Woolly Hollow State Park near Greenbrier allows you to ride at your own pace for as many laps as you feel like riding. How about the Red Hot Cider Float at Pinnacle Mountain State Park near Little Rock? These are great opportunities to make some new friends to start off the new year.
The biggest outdoor event in the state on New Year’s Day is the Annual First Day Hikes conducted by Arkansas State Parks. Take your family on a hike to remember every year at a nearby state park. This is fast becoming one of the great traditions of our state. While you’re there, pick up a state park passport to start your journey of visiting all 52 state parks.