Florida is home to 175 state parks, historical sites, and trails that form the award-winning Florida State Parks system. Additionally, Florida has several aquatic preserves, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and recreation areas comprising the state’s most beautiful rivers, bays, lakes, forests, woodlands, and caves.
With these features, Florida has no shortage of outdoor destinations where you can take a stroll, hike, or swim. Health-conscious individuals who want to experience a share of nature in their routines should consider Florida on their bucket list.
What benefits does spending time outdoors have for your health? What are the physical, psychological, and emotional benefits of spending time outdoors? Are there any good places to walk around in the Florida Keys that can benefit your health? What are the best outdoor places in the Florida Keys?
Readers can find this article helpful in understanding how the outdoors can be beneficial to their health. This article also helps people find great spots in the Florida Keys where they can walk around and spend time for their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
The Health Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors
How does spending time outdoors benefit your health? According to experts, green spaces (areas covered with grass, trees, and other vegetation) are among the fastest ways to help improve one’s health and happiness.
Research suggests that green space may help lower the risk of developing psychiatric disorders. In this case, urban planners can consider integrating natural environments into communities to help reduce psychiatric disorders and improve mental health.
A 2019 study mentioned that spending at least 20 minutes in a park might be enough to improve well-being.
Results also showed that park visitors who participated in the survey experienced significant improvement in life satisfaction scores compared to before and after the visit.
Going outdoors also helps increase your physical activity. When you explore your surroundings, you move around and take steps. One study mentioned that each hour spent outdoors is linked to seven minutes of heart-pumping physical activity and 13 fewer minutes being sedentary or inactive.
Studies also showed that compared to spending time in city environments, being exposed to nature for 30 minutes may help lower your blood pressure and pulse.
Experts consider natural environments like forests as therapeutic landscapes that may have numerous positive psychological effects. One study published in Public Health mentioned that walking or staying in forests may increase liveliness and lower stress, depression, and hostility levels.
The outdoors often have better air quality than indoors. In addition, spending extended periods cooped up inside your room or house can increase your exposure to infectious diseases and common allergens like dust and pet dander. Such allergens can also cause chronic respiratory conditions to develop.
Spending time in the wilderness allows you to breathe in phytoncides or the tonic of essential oils from the trees, leaves, and soil. These oils may help improve immune system function.
Research shows that individuals may experience significant increases in NK cell activity in the week following a forest visit. These positive effects may last a month following each visit to the woods.
NK cells are immune cells containing enzymes that can kill tumor cells or virus-infected cells.
Where to Go in the Florida Keys if You Want to Enjoy the Great Outdoors
When pondering the best places to explore in the Florida Keys, people often immediately think of Key West. But there’s more to see in this group of tropical islands than only this city. Here are some places you should head to in the Keys if you want to take advantage of the great outdoors for your health:
Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key: The park has two separate beach areas: a small beach area facing an old railroad bridge and a large one facing the open ocean. The sights should give you impressive views regardless of which side you prefer.
Bahia Honda covers approximately 400 acres and has a campground area and picnic sites. The park also provides boat tours, snorkeling adventures, and beach equipment rental.
Dry Tortugas National Park: This park is in the Gulf of Mexico, 70 miles from Key West, and accessible by seaplane or boat only. Because of its remoteness, guests often travel to this place as part of a tour.
Dry Tortugas is a preferred destination among divers and snorkelers for its corals, seagrass, and numerous shipwrecks that you can easily find under the surface.
Popular spots in Dry Tortugas include Fort Jefferson’s moat wall, the historic coaling pier, and Garden Key’s coral heads.
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory: This butterfly park offers visitors a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore a glass-enclosed conservatory.
This conservatory is home to nearly 60 species of butterflies that roam freely within the plant-filled habitat.
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park: This park covers 84 acres and is an excellent place to visit in the Keys for people who enjoy and love nature.
This botanical state park is home to rare native plant species and West Indian hardwood hammocks. The park also features a six-mile network of convenient walking trails. Most of these trails are paved to provide easy access, especially for visitors who use wheelchairs.
Contact a travel consultant or agent if you’re planning to book a flight to and stay at the Keys. You can also consult your therapist or doctor to know more about the health benefits of nature and the outdoors.