Much has been made of the report, published in June, that found that spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. But a recent study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that the sense of emotional wellbeing in participants reliably increased with as little as five minutes of contact with nature.
The fact that nature contact is good for you is no surprise to Dr. Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, an OB-Gyn and Integrative Medicine physician who will be one of the featured participants at this year’s SHIFT.
She was impressed, however, with how little time it takes to reap the benefits of being outside.
“This study was the first to quantify the benefits of short periods of exposure to nature,” she says. “Health benefits occur in much smaller quantities of time than we even realized.”
Dr. Hackenmiller will be talking about the health benefits of time outside in an intimate, hands-on session on Thursday, Oct. 17 at SHIFT, when she and Ron Schneidermann, the Chief Marketing and Chief Operating Officer of AllTrails, will lead a free, public hike on Snow King Mountain.
With over 75,000 trails available in its database, the AllTrails app provides the largest collection of detailed, hand-curated trail maps, along with reviews and photos crowdsourced from a community of 11 million hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, and trail runners.
AllTrails recently appointed Dr. Hackenmiller as its Medical Advisor. As evidenced by her engagement, as well as its support for events such as SHIFT, the company is investing in the connection between health and nature contact.
Meaghan Praznik, AllTrails’ Head of Communications, says that AllTrails is committed to the belief that everyone has a right to access nature for a simple reason: being outside is good for you.
When it comes to getting outside, however, “a lot of people don’t know where to start,” says Praznik. “AllTrails gives users the confidence to get outside and start exploring.”
“So many of us feel that we have to fully commit to extremes,” says Dr. Hackenmiller. “We feel we have to do this big thing that there isn’t the time in the day for.”
“There’s something to be said for just getting outside, even for a short period of time, and seeing for ourselves if we don’t feel better.”
AllTrails is designed to bridge that gap between staying inside and getting outside. “The health benefits are the why,” says Praznik. “AllTrails is the how.”
Dr. Hackenmiller currently serves as Medical Director for the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. In addition to the AllTrails hike, she will be co-facilitating a Forest Therapy walk at SHIFT on Friday, Oct. 18, alongside Amos Clifford, ANFT’s founder.
Dr. Hackenmiller’s passion for integrative medicine and nature therapy arose from her personal journey through raising a child on the autism spectrum, her late husband’s death from cancer, the inadequacies of conventional medicine, and her personal discovery of solace in both outdoor adventure and mindfulness in nature. She and her current husband, Joe, lead workshops combining mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, integrative wellness topics, and the practice of Shinrin-Yoku/Japanese forest bathing for women’s empowerment, individuals with special needs, cancer survivors, and others.
She is the author of an award-winning children’s book about autism called “A Friend Like John, Understanding Autism,” and more recently “The Outdoor Adventurer’s Guide to Forest Bathing.” Dr. Bartlett Hackenmiller speaks nationally and internationally on the subject of autism, integrative medicine, and nature therapy.
As part of their support for SHIFT, AllTrails is gifting SHIFT participants with AllTrails Pro accounts to use during the AllTrails Snow King hike on October 17th from 12-2pm at Snow King Mountain. Mr. Schneidermann, an entrepreneur who co-founded Liftopia, the global leader in ski lift ticket bookings, in 2005, and more recently served as the Head of Growth at Yelp Reservations, will help participants unlock the value of the pro account, while Dr. Hackenmiller will highlight the health benefits of time outside.
“I love the intersection of nature and technology,” says Dr. Hackenmiller. “We often talk about how technology contributes to poor health, but it often contributes to positive health outcomes too. I see patients via telehealth, which allows me to bring integrative medicine to peole all over the world. I love to be able to share information via tech, whether through social media, webinars or apps like AllTrails.”
Schneidermann notes that many many of the benefits of the Pro account have to do with safety. Pro account users can download maps and see their exact GPS location on a fully detailed trail map, even when they’re offline. The account’s off-route notifications signal a user when they have wandered off their intended itinerary. Pro users get access to real-time overlays including air quality, satellite weather, pollen, light pollution, fire history, and user heatmaps as well.
Importantly for Dr. Hackenmiller, the Lifeline feature allows users to stay connected to loved ones, helping them share trip details like planned start/finish time, a map of their planned route, and sends status updates to a designated safety contacts with a tap.
If a user is overdue for their planned finish time, Lifeline will automatically send an alert to the safety contacts along with the user’s last known location.
“My husband and I are data geeks,” says Dr. Hackenmiller. “We always have a phone with us. I’m thrilled the Pro account has the safety feature so we can not worry when one of us is out on a hike or a ride by ourselves.”
“Where are you going? When are you leaving? What time do you think you’ll be back? What time should I be worried? The Lifeline feature takes those questions out of the equation,” says Praznik.
“I’m very excited and passionate about connecting the dots between nature and wellness, whether it’s adventure, which I love, or quiet time in nature, which I love,” says Dr. Hackenmiller. “Every group of people I work with knows deep down that we belong outside. They know it’s important both mentally and physically. Fostering those connections the way AllTrails does is great.”
“I’m exited to bring a simple fact to participants on the hike,” she says. “Nature is for everyone.”