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Celebrate Canada’s Parks Day!
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Celebrate Canada’s Parks Day!

[caption id="attachment_37287" align="alignleft" width="150"] Jill Sturdy, NatureHood Program Manager.[/caption] There are so many reasons to spend time outdoors and explore in nature. It’s a great way to connect with nature and learn about local biodiversity. There is more and more research exposing the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature. Simply put, exploring nature is good for you and good for your soul. What’s more is you don’t need to go far to get into nature. In fact, our NatureHood program is all about that: exploring nature right where you live. Watch and listen to the birds in your neighbourhood. How many species can you identify? Early morning is the best time, as that’s when birds are most active. Find out how you can attract birds and other wildlife to your yard – it can be as simple as planting native flowers to attract butterflies. Learn more about ways you can be a good neighbor to wildlife here. Another way to get out into nature is to go for a hike at your local nature trails. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the plants you shouldn’t touch! Hint: poison ivy thrives along trail edges – another good reason to stick to the trails! Summer is also a great time to venture out a little farther and explore our beautiful parks! Saturday, July 21 is Canada’s Parks Day – a day to celebrate our parks and all that they have to offer. Depending where you live in the country, you won’t have to go far to get to a park.

Summer is short so get out and explore! What’s your favourite nature-based activity?


Here are just a couple of examples of park initiatives happening next weekend: Healthy by Nature is an initiative developed by the BC Parks Foundation. They are promoting Parks Day by encouraging people to join a family-friendly walk in one of BC’s provincial parks on July 21st. Healthy Parks Healthy People is an initiative developed by Ontario Parks to promote the link between a healthy environment and healthy society. On Friday, July 20, ALL of Ontario provincial parks will offer FREE day-use to encourage Ontarians to explore a provincial park near them.
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Canada’s Parks Day and the Benefits of Being in Nature
News

Canada’s Parks Day and the Benefits of Being in Nature

According to Statistics Canada, as of  2011, more than 80% of Canadians today live in urban areas. While the amenities of big-city life are a significant draw, the benefits of spending time in nature, for both children and adults, are unquestionable. children-forest-hikeGetting children out in nature is crucial to their growth. It enriches both their mental and physical development and well-being. Spending time outdoors and performing activities that engage with the natural world has been shown to increase attention spans, cultivate creativity, and plant a desire to learn through exploration. A 2009 study found that children who spend time in green parks exhibit lower levels of symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition, being outdoors is good for physical fitness. Recreational activities like walking, running, and spontaneous play (like throwing a ball), can lead to a lower likelihood of developing chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. Further, a longitudinal study performed in Southern California found that proximity to parks results in lower obesity rates among children. The benefits of nature extend to adulthood in numerous and diverse ways. Chronic stress leads to poorer sleep, headaches, obesity, hypertension, decreased immunity, and can eventually result in dangerous ailments such as heart disease and stroke. But the tension can be countered by taking in the sights and sounds of green spaces. And this doesn't mean a three-hour drive to the mountains. Apparently, merely having a window forest view can be enough to lower stress in the workplace! In addition, a 2015 study at Stanford University found that adults who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to a congested urban zone, had decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression. Another benefit of being in nature is improved cognitive ability. Spending time in green areas helps clear our heads, refocus, and also improves our memory. Research shows that even patients with dementia have decreased symptoms when exposed to gardens and horticultural activities. canada-parks-passWith these findings in mind, take care of yourself and your loved ones by taking it outside. Canada's Parks Day—and the rest of the summer—is yours for the taking! For 2017, admission is free to all national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada. You can order your pass online or pick one up at MEC, CIBC branches, and various partner organizations near you—see this official list of locations by province. To help you make a destination decision, review this complete Parks Canada list of all the free sites, which you can limit by province. There are also many outdoor activities to consider in the city. Enjoy a contemplative walk or a bike ride along a waterway, a good book under the trees, a picnic by the lake, birdwatching from your porch, or a bug scavenger hunt with your children. The options are endless! We hope you enjoy this year’s Canada’s Parks Day and we would love to hear about your adventures!

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