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Benefits of being outside

As winter slowly creeps up on us as we continue through the semester, the ability to spend long periods of time outside while enjoying the sun are decreasing. The benefit of being outside right now is a mutually shared sentiment by students, professors, and faculty members.

The top of the sky trail at The Trees of Mystery. Photo credit: Iridian Casarez

By | Bryan Donoghue

Being outside rejuvenates our bodies. Geneviève Marchand, a Kinesiology professor specializing in outdoor recreation notices that many students come here and take opportunities to get to know the community of outdoor recreation, but that there are also some students who do not. This point of curiosity led to a study, if participation in the outdoors near Humboldt State helps students feel more connected to their campus community.

“My hypothesis is that it is and that students that actually either have opportunities to go outdoors or take the time to go outdoors feel more connected to Humboldt State.” Marchand said. “I’m really interested to find if that works and if that makes a difference.”

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Gold Beach, Oregon Photo credit: Iridian Casarez

The outdoors provide a variety of different benefits under a cluster of different weather conditions and locations. Although, being outside in nature like we have in Humboldt stays consistently beneficial in how it effects our bodies and mind.

The cooling air is helpful with refreshment, acting as a stimulant of sorts that wakes up an individual, specifically someone who has been fatigued.

“When I’ve been at the gym all day, it’s nice to just walk outside and feel the cool air and just kind of chill for a second,” said Madeline Hatch, a sophomore kinesiology major at Humboldt State.

This sentiment aligns with Marchand’s research. According to Marchand, just being outside reduces our stress levels.

“We basically just go outdoors, and somehow being that it’s nature, that open space, being in green, the sounds and the smells, it all reduces our stress levels.” Marchand said. “There’s actually evidence of it reducing your heart rate, and calming your breathing.”

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Grants Pass, Oregon Photo credit: Iridian Casarez

It’s not just feeling exhausted physically, after spending a while studying, sometimes the brain needs a breath of fresh air to be woken up as well.

“I definitely notice that when I get bogged down with studying, if I take my reading outside, it kind of wakes me up a bit,” said Kindall Murie, a senior marine biology major.

There’s evidence that the outdoors helps plenty psychologically. According to Marchand, it reduces mental stress and gives just a better mental wellbeing overall.

The outdoor environment of Humboldt County is something to be grateful for according to Steve Bell, an assistant supervisor at the Student Recreational Center at Humboldt State.

“You have to stimulate yourself. This is a natural way to get what’s available out there.” Bell said. “So that’s what we’re doing. We’re making the most of an opportunity to be out here, by being outside today. I was just telling my daughter here that you really need to thank God for the opportunity.”

To enjoy the benefits of being outside, you have to put the effort in. Make that first step. The benefits will follow.

“I was telling my daughter, we are going to get a lot more out of this than what you put into it.” Bell said. “You don’t only reap what you sow, you reap more than you sow. We’re doing it by faith, and we’re basically sowing the seed today to reap the benefits of another time.” 

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The top of the sky trail at Trees of Mystery. | Photo by Iridian Casarez

According to Marchand, there’s evidence we learn best about ourselves, and potentially about how to work with other groups in outdoor settings that are challenging us.

“In the end, nature takes care of letting them know if they did a good job, or not.” Marchand said. “I think they learn about themselves, and become better and more in tune with themselves as human beings.”

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