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. Usually people do trekking, cycling, kayaking or cross-country skiing when visiting national parks. For example, in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, visitors moved a total of about 10.6 million kilometers in 2018 by their own power. This equates to roughly the same distance as 266 laps around the world.
Public health is improving
Outdoor recreation and wilderness hobbies are also a significant financial opportunity from the perspective of health care and public health. According to visitor surveys conducted by Metsähallitus in 2016-2018, 88% of visitors to nature and history sites experienced that the visit had a fairly or very high impact on their health and wellbeing. The average health and well-being effect of the visitors was 4.37 on a scale of 1-5, with 1 = totally disagree, ..., 5 = totally agree.
Visitors estimated their health and well-being effects to around 110 euros per visit. 110 euros is the median value of the answers (the middle value). The self-defined worth of health benefits experienced by all Finnish national park visitors in 2018 has been calculated in Metsähallitus reports at roughly 348 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)