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Get Outdoors --- Keep moving and exploring!

Sandra Chafin Special to The Star
The Star

Continuing our trails exploration through the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve takes us to Depot Run looking at our trail map available at each gate. 1.2 miles from Treasure Road to Grassy Road. Staff at the preserve inherited the names of the roads and ponds with the purchase of the property. Some names are obvious due to trees, plants, geography, or past historical uses. Depot Run is near the swampy areas next to Depot Creek . . .

What might one see if hiking on Depot Run? Trees, shrubs, sandy roads, tracks of various animals, clouds through the trees, and a training track marked by white posts for AVT training. Can you see the concrete power pole? It’s right in the middle of the picture. We do have to interrupt nature sometimes for the necessities needed in life.

Since we don’t know exactly why road was named Depot Run, let’s think about it in terms of why it is so important --- to get outside!

There is a concept used in Japan named “forest bathing” which is an essential part of their national health program. This concept was developed in 1982 and is still relevant today. The Japanese Shinrin-Yoku Forest Therapy is regarded highly and has as its goal to reintroduce people to the healing power of nature. After much research and many studies, the conclusion is clear – nature benefits wellbeing in many ways.

AsktheScientist.com suggests specific reasons why being outside is so important. First, we are glued to our TVs and electronic devices so much of our waking hours which alone can add stress. In today’s world it’s very stressful just dealing with issues of the day. Guess what? Getting outside helps relieve stress. Well, that’s simple enough to say however actually going out in nature might be a little more complicated.

This is where the St. Joseph Bay Buffer Preserve comes into focus. There are trails, and more trails to choose from on the Preserve. When stress goes unchecked it can create physical problems such as depression, high blood pressure, or obesity.

Want to strengthen your Immunity? Don’t we all? Fact: Staying indoors can have a negative effect on your health. The boost you get from a trip into nature will help you in your efforts to being healthier.

Another reason to get outside: Sharpen your focus and enhance your creativity by being outside enjoying nature. Workers who have a window viewing the outside or who take a break to the outdoors report an increase in productivity and in the ability to concentrate. Research tells us after spending time exploring the outdoors there is an increase in creative problem solving and cognitive function --- of nearly 50 percent. Let’s G.O.

Need to calm your mind? If you feel like depression and anxiety is becoming crippling to your wellbeing – get outdoors. Being outdoors creates positive physical responses in our body. Reducing blood pressure, lowering heart rate and decreasing cortisol levels sound like a plan? Just getting outside helps our body slow down, which helps us feel peaceful and calm.

Environmental Specialist, Sophia Foncesa, loves to find something that needs her attention in the uplands. While in the office she has a great view of St. Joseph Bay however, the rare plants, trees and invasives are always in her mind and she feels the need to check on them. “I love working at the Preserve”, says Sophia. She came to the Preserve by way of South Florida is thoroughly enjoyed our natural beauty and resources. “I can’t wait for the TRAM Tours to start again and I so enjoy sharing the Preserve with our visitors.”

Need an effective aid for weight management? Nature offers wonderful fresh air and beautiful sites to see. In just one-half hour you can expend 150 calories walking. Why not walk on trails where nature is on display and your body can benefit profusely? Walks in nature at the Buffer Preserve are free, yet so beneficial. Get outdoors and enjoy all those health benefits natures has to offer.

The next articles will have more reasons why being outside is important! Don’t sit inside and think about or read about nature – come out and enjoy it firsthand!

Your questions can be answered if you call 850-229-1787. We suggest you bring water, phone, wear sturdy close-toed shoes. Depending on the time of day sunscreen is needed and a hat or cap is very helpful.