Entitled “SHIFT Rx,” The 2019 SHIFT Festival will highlight the health benefits of outdoor recreation.
In doing so, the event, which will be held Oct. 16-18 in Jackson Hole, will build upon SHIFT’s 2018 focus on the connection between public health and public lands.
“The 2018 SHIFT Festival explored the critical relationship between outdoor recreation, public health and the future of conservation,” said David Weinstein, State and Local Policy Director for Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). “By focusing on public health as an ecosystem service, SHIFT reframed conservation to include the health benefits derived from the natural world. They’re not possible without accessible lands and waters.”
It also created a watershed moment.
For the first time, proponents in outdoor recreation, conservation and land management—SHIFT’s traditional stakeholder communities—gathered with members of the health care, funding and research communities to explore the critical connection between time spent outside and the health and wellbeing of all people.
In 2018, “SHIFT provided a unique and truly inspiring opportunity to bring different perspectives and disciplines together in one place,” said Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix. “No one else is doing this in the nature-health arena—and it is critically needed.”
Dr. Michael Suk. System Wide Chairman of the Geisinger Musculoskeletal Institute for the Geisinger Health System and one of the country’s earliest and leading proponents of the health benefits of nature, agrees.
“Recreational activities in the great outdoors provide tremendous benefit to mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing,” he says. “Outdoor recreation truly is the gateway to better health.”
With “SHIFT Rx,” The 2019 SHIFT Festival will complement its focus on the health benefits of outdoor recreation with a showcase of best practices from around the country that are connecting people to time outside in impactful, innovative and replicable ways.
“SHIFT Rx is the point of the spear on a trans-disciplinary conversation,” he says. “The goal is to make ‘nature as medicine’ common knowledge for those who need it most. That’s a world-changing recipe.”
“Nature as medicine” has financial implications as well.
Outdoor recreation generates $887B in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs each year. These figures, however, are dwarfed by health care, which is a $3.2T industry.
Meanwhile, inadequate levels of physical activity in the U.S. last year led to $116B/year in health care costs. In 2018, Oregonians’ participation in outdoor recreation activities alone yielded $1.4B/year in health care cost savings.
“What kind of health care cost savings can be achieved through outdoor recreation, and how can the health care and outdoor industries better partner to achieve long-term conservation goals?” asks David Weinstein. “OIA looks forward to this conversation at The 2019 SHIFT Festival.”
As it does every year, The 2019 SHIFT Festival will build its program around Official Selections for The SHIFT Awards, which honor work that is leveraging outdoor recreation for conservation gains.
The 2019 event will also feature participants from The Emerging Leaders Program, which prepares early career leaders in outdoor recreation, conservation, land management and public health to help facilitate the Festival proceedings.
“Outdoor recreation fosters appreciation for the natural world, mental and physical wellbeing and positive social connections,” said Christian Beckwith, SHIFT’s Director. “What better way to increase nature’s value proposition than by underscoring its importance to public health?”
Says Beckwith, “We look forward to exploring the answer with the broader community in October.”