Spring is here, and it’s time to get outdoors! Dust off your kayak, pull your hiking boots out of the closet, locate that fishing gear you stowed in the garage last fall. Whether it’s in the woods or on the water, spending time in nature will make you feel good.
Benefits of Being Outdoors
Nature enthusiasts know on an instinctual level that being active outdoors makes us feel good. Scientists know it too. Numerous studies have tracked how outdoor activity improves mood and sleep quality, lessens anxiety, and combats depression. When we spend time in nature, lots of great things happen. We become less reactive and more empathetic, our resilience and focus improve, and we become more grounded and present. The setting matters too. One study
compared subjects who walked in the forest to those who walked in the city. The forest group shared an average 1.4% decrease in blood pressure, 6% decrease in heart rate, significantly lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and stronger positive emotions. Plus, spending time in nature helps us become more invested in the place we call home. According to NSRWA Executive Director Samantha Woods, “When we connect with nature by experiencing it, conserving nature becomes personally relevant. We only protect what we love, and we only love what we know.”
How Much is Enough?
In “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative,” Florence Williams investigates how and why being outdoors makes us feel good. To answer this question of “How much we need,” Williams cites a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology that recommends a minimum of five hours of “nature time” per month. That’s about 30 minutes, twice a week, to elevate your mood and stave off depression. Double that, and the benefits expand further. Williams explains, “The more nature, the better you feel.”
What Are the Barriers?
You love spending time outdoors, but… What’s stopping you? Perhaps you don’t know where to go, or you don’t have anyone to go with. Maybe you’re tired of the same old places, or you don’t know where to park, or where to find a trail map. Don’t dismay: NSRWA is here to help!
New Website and Guide Map
To help remove some of the barriers that prevent us from spending time outdoors on the South Shore, NSRWA has been working diligently this past year to create new resources.
• Our thoroughly updated and more user-friendly website offers extensive information about hiking places, boat
and kayak launch sites, and historic points of interest, plus information about spots for fishing and shellfishing. Visit
ExploreSouthShore.org to find a place to explore, download a trail map, and even learn about the property’s history and wildlife. You’ll also find details about fees, parking and other particulars.
• The new “Explore South Shore Recreation Guide Map” is also coming out soon. This updated fifth edition of
our map includes 97 historic and recreational points of interest. Whether you’re an angler, photographer, kayaker, or hiker, you’ll find it to be a valuable resource.
• In addition, we’ve expanded our events calendar with a wide variety of walks, workshops, guided paddling and fishing excursions, and pontoon boat tours, plus summer favorites like our Great River Race and Yoga at the River’s Edge program. Visit exploresouthshore.org to sign up for your next adventure!
Photographers Lend Their Talent to Our New Website
Weymouth native, Lisa Irwin became passionate about photography after a career shift in 2013. “It makes me truly happy!” she says. Her favorite subjects are birds and critters of all kinds, as well as landscapes. After she won our 2018 Explore South Shore Photo Contest, we asked Lisa to create images for our new website. The project returned her to favorite locations like North River and Daniel Webster sanctuaries, and also led to new discoveries. “I had never seen Pudding Hill before,” Lisa says. “It’s just beautiful! Also, the Herring River Trail in Scituate will now be one of my regular stops.”
Mike Sleeper also contributed to our new website. A Marshfield native, Mike first picked up a camera around age 12. His interests progressed from birds, to commercial photography, and eventually to landscapes (See pages 1 and 8). You can now see many of his gorgeous panoramic images on our website. Mike especially enjoys taking pictures of the places where the land meets the water. He says, “I like how it changes with the tides and seasons. There’s something to see 365 days a year.” Some of his favorite spots include Duxbury Bay, World’s End, and the ponds of Hanson where his father grew up.