Original story posted on Sierra Club.
Last spring, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and the children’s publishing company Scholastic sponsored an essay-writing contest for children in grades fourth through sixth. The contest asked students to submit essays and accompanying illustrations explaining why the outdoors matters. Nearly 2,000 kids from across the country participated.
Katie B., a sixth grader from Ellisville, Missouri mentioned in her essay:
“Swinging, sliding, and climbing at parks are only for fun, right? Not true! Parks and outdoor spaces are not only for fun, but are actually necessary for the world. Parks and outdoor spaces improve our health, environment, and relationships.
Parks and outdoor spaces improve our health. Specifically, by going to the park, a person’s stress is decreased and happiness increased. Researchers from Finland set out to prove that parks decrease stress. When we are stressed, we release a hormone in our bodies called cortisol. The higher your stress, the more cortisol is found in your body. The researchers from Finland found that the people’s cortisol levels were lower in the park environments than in the city. They concluded that parks relax us more than being in the middle of the city. Not only by going to the park does stress decline, but feelings of happiness increase. When you exercise at the park, endorphins and serotonin are released. Endorphins are chemicals that are released in your brain with exercise. They make you feel more positive and have a better outlook on life. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in your brain that is balanced by exercise to make you feel less anxious and depressed. Overall, you feel happier when endorphins and serotonin are energized by exercising in the park.”
Walden students enjoy days filled with open air and nature based activities because we agree with Katie B. - nature does make us feel happier!