By: NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.
Over the last quarter of a millennium, humans have moved indoors. Beginning in 1750 with the first wave of the Industrial Revolution, a gross migration began to occur when people from rural, outdoor, farming communities moved to cities. Now, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. In the early stages of industrialization, people were moving to cities for factory work. Now, in the post-industrial economies of the developed world, people are working in office spaces, living stationary lifestyles under fluorescent lights.
With the invention of universal education that came with industrialization, children have also been brought inside. Education inflation has caused young people not only to spend school hours inside, but also to spend more time inside studying, with everyone sinking down in front of the TV or computer when the long, tiring day is over. Today, we see less-developed countries experiencing the same lifestyle shift that brought us indoors.
Now, I’m not romanticizing life before the “Great Indoor Migration” because I think it has ultimately improved our lives. Without this shift, I would probably be spending my day harvesting crops, cleaning the house, and thinking about getting married in five years. Instead, I’m going to school and hoping in five years to start a life and career for myself. The fact of the matter is that we are now living indoors more, and it's time we make a better effort to be active outside.
The fun, animated video, What if You Stopped Going Outside?, describes health risks and problems that could arise from not spending enough time outside - including osteoporosis, depression, and even cancers.
Furthermore, the Harvard Health Letter gives some of the benefits of spending time outside. These include getting more vitamin D, more exercise, a happier life, better concentration, and a greater healing time in the event of injury. Being outside feels good and is good for you, but the main problem facing most people is finding time to be more active. Volunteering outdoors is a great way to merge outdoor activities with community engagement. You will impact the community by volunteering and help yourself by being active.
Hiking, climbing, and running are all ways we interact with nature. It is also important to protect our environment. Volunteering with organizations concerned with the environment is a great way to maintain an active lifestyle. Some outdoor environmental projects could entail planting a community or urban garden or helping clean up a river, beach, highway, or nearby park. To find these types of opportunities, look up local parks and environmental organizations. Remember not only to keep it outdoors, but to keep it local too. Part of being more active is also getting out of those cars and using your legs as transportation. So while you improve the environment and enjoy your time outdoors, you can also reduce pollution and a direct impact on your own local community.
Sports are another way people enjoy time outdoors. Walks and marathons are common fundraising events, and nonprofits are always in need of volunteers to register runners, hand out water, stand along the route, and encourage the runners and walkers. For example, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in the States are two runs held to support breast cancer research and breast cancer survivors. While October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, events are held year round. Organizations in your community may also hold fundraising races for local causes. In Greensboro, NC, an event called the Chicken Walk was held to raise money to help the Interactive Resource Center, a local resource that helps people experiencing homelessness, keep its doors open.
Volunteering with athletics is a great way to help an important cause, but volunteering actively can also mean supporting the cause of physical activity and exercise itself.
Volunteer coaching or hosting a field day are both great ways to get outdoors. Not only will you be active, get outside, and have fun, but you’ll also bring the importance of being active to children growing up in the “Great Indoor Migration”. You’ll become a positive mentor and leader to the kids you work with. You can inspire them to lead healthier lives, develop sportsmanship, and enjoy just being a kid. To find these kinds of opportunities, team up with local schools, parks, and recreation centers to get involved or to pioneer your own program geared toward fitness.
Are you looking for meaningful outdoor service activities? Find volunteer events near you by signing up for your free NobleHour account. NobleHour can help you help others!
Classroom image via FotoPedia
Natasha Derezinski-Choo is a student at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. She started volunteering in high school and hasn’t stopped since! Natasha enjoys writing poetry, cooking, and traveling. Wherever she goes, she always wants to experience something new.