Tonight I attended the Banff Mountain Film Festival as I have done almost every year for the last 20 years. This film festival is a celebration of mountain culture and the outdoor lifestyle.
Mountain culture means a certain thing to me, my family and my friends. Understanding what this means can shed some light on what it means to be healthy.
I could say it means high adventure like ice climbing, parasailing, and extreme skiing. I could say it means having a community where fitness is highly valued. I could say it means being outdoorsy. I could say it means being active in the environmental community. But it is not exactly just these things.
It is a little but of each of these things. But mostly it is this: it is connecting WITH people IN nature. We know from the social sciences that being connected to others is critical to health and wellness. We also know that immersion in nature is critical to our well being. Numerous studies have demonstrated that exposure to or immersion in nature improves the following:
immune system resistance
increased positive mood
increased feelings of unity with others, more sense of community
more concern over helping others
enhanced social interactions
For children, exposure to nature has been associated with the following:
- reduced stress levels, increased fitness
- reduction in ADHD symptoms
- enhanced student performance on tests of critical thinking
The data on the subject of nature and health are fascinating, overwhelming and encouraging. Check some out for yourself:
No matter where you live, be it city or country, this is important for you to know. You and your family need your time in nature, no matter the season, no matter whether you live in the mountains. coast, desert or plain.
You should keep an eye out for any outdoor film festivals in your area as they are sure to inspire. Our local festival out of Banff is sponsored in part by National Geographic. I was intrigued by their stated interest which was the intersection of “science, adventure and storytelling” . Go out and get some for yourself.