The Health Benefits of Visiting National Parks
Trips to national parks, the top Finnish nature attractions, help you de-stress. According to Metsähallitus reports, vitality and happiness are improved on trips to Finnish national parks and other quality nature destinations. Especially age groups going through their busy years, women and children benefit from hikes in national parks.
A trip to a national park calms the mind, prevents melancholy feelings and stress and makes you forget everyday troubles. The health benefits experienced are greater when staying outdoors overnight as opposed to day trips, and visitors travelling to national parks from afar experience more effects on their physical well-being than those coming from nearby areas. Visitors hiking in groups increase their social well-being and strengthen their friendships. Hikers also experience physical benefits, for example, the clean air and silence are good for the body.
National parks are significant exercise environments for Finns. On average, national park visitors make 15 km long hikes. By this we can assume that the combined length of walks in national parks per year is approximately 34 million kilometers, which is the equivalent of 850 laps around the world.
Hundreds of Millions of Euros Worth of Public Health Experienced
Outdoor recreation and wilderness hobbies are also a significant financial opportunity from the perspective of health care and public health. According to Metsähallitus reports, a hiker estimates the worth of the well-being benefits gained from one visit to a national park at an average of 208 euros.
The self-defined worth of health benefits experienced by all Finnish national park visitors in 2013 has been calculated in Metsähallitus reports at 226 million euros in total.
A trip to a national park lifts your mood effectively and revitalizes you from the effects of stress. Trips to parks seem to increase serenity and calmness, happiness, vitality and the feeling of security, and decrease feelings of melancholy particularly in 26–50 year olds.
Even though the majority of Finns who hike are men, women draw more energy from nature than men, according to Metsähallitus reports. Women report more often than men about the improvements in well-being after a visit to a national park. Women also assess the positive effects to be more long term than men do.
Nature Is the Best Playground
According to Metsähallitus reports, adults feel that spending time outdoors offers incentives and developing activities for children. According to the adults, the children enjoyed spending time outdoors and together and experienced the joys of exercising. They get positive experiences of self-fulfillment and learn new skills and things. Outdoor activities are also thought to have a positive effect on a child’s imagination, creativity and insightfulness.
- Health and well-being from Finnish national parks – A study on benefits perceived by visitors (publication at julkaisut.metsa.fi, in Finnish: Terveyttä ja hyvinvointia kansallispuistoista – Tutkimus kävijöiden kokemista vaikutuksista; summary in English on p. 43)