Get Outside & Improve Your Family Health:
Five Places to Visit in Georgia This Fall
By Kristin Bentley
It’s so easy to fall into our day-to-day routine, going from the office back home to relax in our favorite chair, catching up on Netflix shows. But research suggests that we should spend some of our day, every day, out in the great outdoors. Both our physical and mental health depend on it.
Spending time outdoors, whether in a national forest, hiking a mountain, or simply lounging in your backyard, can lead to significant health benefits. Studies show it lowers blood pressure, boost mental health, and decreases risks for developing cancer. So, go spend some time forest-bathing to improve your health today!
Here are 12 reasons why it’s so important, according to Business Insider:
It can improve your short-term memory. Several studies prove that nature walks, even short ones, have memory-promoting effects that walks in an urban environment don’t.
Being outside has a de-stressing effect. There’s just something about being outside that changes the physical expression of stress in the body.
It eliminates fatigue. It has also been found that natural beauty can elicit feelings of gratitude and appreciation, which is one of surest ways to receive a mental boost.
Spending time outside reduces inflammation. Fresh air has been proven to help to calm a wide range of illnesses, such as autoimmune disorders, depression, IBS, and cancer.
The outdoors may help to fight both depression and anxiety. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues may be eased by spending time in nature – especially when it’s combined with exercise.
It may protect your child’s vision. Outdoor activity has been found to have a protective effect on the eyes and reduce the risk of developing nearsightedness.
Blood pressure is lowered. Of course, it’s no surprise that outdoor time, which almost always involves walking, lowers blood pressure.
Your ability to focus could improve. We all know that the natural environment has restorative qualities, and this includes helping you focus.
Creative tasks are performed better. One study found that people immersed in nature for four days boosted their performance by a whopping 50 percent!
It may prevent cancer. Spending time in nature – in forests, in particular – may stimulate the production of anti-cancer protein. Boosts in levels can last up to a week after the trip. Studies in Japan, where “shinrin-yoku” or “forest-bathing” is considered a form of preventative medicine, have also found that areas with greater forest coverage have lower mortality rates from a wide variety of cancers.
Forests might boost your immune system. The cellular activity that is believed to be associated with anti-cancer effects, it is also believed that a general boost to the immune system occurs as well.
Outdoor time is connected to a lower overall risk of early death. A recently published study found that a greater exposure to greenness was connected to a 12 percent lower mortality rate.
As a runner, I have experienced the difference in the way I feel after running on a trail through the woods compared to running down a sidewalk in my subdivision. Fresh air just has a way of naturally rejuvenating our minds and bodies.
Fortunately, living in Georgia provides not only nearly year-round good weather, but also some of the country’s most beautiful places to enjoy the colorful season. Over the twelve years my family was stationed at Fort Benning, we enjoyed exploring the outdoors nearly every weekend, but five places quickly became our family favorites.
Crowds line the Chattahoochee’s 15-mile linear park every summer for the yearly RiverFest and Fourth of July fireworks display. However, this festive trail is great for any time of the year for families to enjoy the weekend. One of my favorite fall memories was going on an hour-long family bike ride down the trail and stopping uptown for dinner at Picasso’s Pizzeria.
#4. Stone Mountain
The views from the top of this majestic mountain are some of Georgia’s most breathtaking. Known as the gateway to Stone Mountain Park, the beautiful view includes one of Atlanta’s skyline. My family walked the 1-mile climb to the top several times every fall, we just loved it that much!
#3. Flat Rock Park
After moving to Fort Benning, this was the first place we found, and it instantly became a weekend spot my boys asked to go to over and over again. Throughout the park there’s picnic tables and hiking trails that we never explored, because all they wanted to do every visit was slide down the rocks. But honestly, who could blame them?
#2. Amicalola Falls
As Georgia’s tallest waterfall, of 729 feet, you just know it’s going to be beautiful. Located north near Dahlonega, we only made this trip once in November and it was a memorable one. With so many hiking trails throughout the state, this is one that everyone needs to add to their bucket list. After the 1.25-mile climb of 604 stairs up to the top of the falls, my boys had to take a rest before coming back down.
Whoever would’ve guessed that Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon formed as a result of farming erosion in the 1800’s? The result is a spectacular site of canyons forged from sandstone, as well as chasms, cliffs, and an array of colored soil that became our favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon. With 10 miles of trails to hike, including a shorter 3-mile loop, camping and picnic shelters, the state park has a lot to offer.